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g< OU_1 64766 > 

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Call No. 110/S^fiH Accession No. 1 

Author Smuts, T.C. 

Title Holism r^ evolution 

This book should be returned on or before the date last marked below. 















trst Edition . . 1926 
Stcond Edition . . 1927 



IT is very gratifying that a book dealing with such abstruse 
topics as this work should within a comparatively short 
period of months call for a second edition. I am indeed 
grateful for this favourable reception. I had the fear at the 
beginning that this effort of one whose life-work had lain 
in other spheres might perhaps not be taken seriously. On 
the contrary, whatever its many shortcomings, it has been 
received seriously and considered on its merits not only by 
the general public but by many workers who occupy a fore- 
most place in science and philosophy. The little seed seems 
really to have fallen into fruitful soil, and there I am content 
to leave it. Holism, whether old or new, is essentially a 
great idea and, like all great ideas, it will once it has 
appeared on the horizon move of its own momentum and 
reach its own fruition. 

It must be clear to those who look below the surface of 
things that far-reaching changes in our fundamental ideas 
and attitudes are setting in, and that the world of to-morrow 
will be a very different one from that which carried us into 
the abyss in 1914. In this connection a grave duty arises 
also for our science and philosophy. The higher thought of 
our day should not exhaust itself in fine-spun technicalities 
of speculation or research, but should regard itself as 
dedicated to service and should make its distinctive contri- 
bution towards the upbuilding of a new constructive world- 
view. We are passing through one of the great transition 
epochs of history ; we are threatened with reaction on the 
one hand and with disintegration on the other. The old 
beacon lights are growing dimmer, and the torch of new ideas 
has to be kindled for our guidance. The word is largely 
with our intellectual leaders. In the last resort a civilisation 


depends on its general ideas; it is nothing but a spiritual 
structure of the dominant ideas expressing themselves in 
institutions and the subtle atmosphere of culture. If the 
soul of our civilisation is to be saved we shall have to find 
new and fuller expression for the great saving unities the 
unity of reality in all its range, the unity of life in all its 
forms, the unity of ideas throughout human civilisation, and 
the unity of man's spirit with the mystery of the Cosmos in 
religious faith and aspiration. Holism is in its own way a 
groping towards the new light and to new points of view. 
And I cannot help feeling that if the full extent of its implica- 
tions is realised, both science and philosophy will enter into 
a more favourable atmosphere for further advance. 

Several of my friendly critics have pointed out meta- 
physical difficulties and omissions in this book. The 
omissions are deliberate, the difficulties perhaps unavoidable. 
I recognise that there is a Metaphysic or Logic of Holism 
which has still to be written ; but it is not for me to write it. 
There are others who are trained for the job and who, I feel 
sure, will do justice to it. All I have attempted is to explain 
the broad idea, to show some of its more important applica- 
tions, and to create a general atmosphere favourable to it. 
This I may fairly claim to do for Holism; I have felt its 
power, and I have found it an idea that works. I therefore 
believe in it and do not view it merely as an interesting bit 
of speculation. 

It has been a cheering discovery since the publication of 
this book to see along how many different lines the idea of 
the whole is already inspiring research in science and thought. 
But few apparently have realised the wide scope of the idea. 
And I hope this book has done some good in pointing out 
its fundamental and universal character. The more it is 
realised by workers along the new lines that they work under 
the impulse of a common idea and ideal, the sooner we shall 
attain to the great vision of the unity of knowledge, and 
through it of the unity of reality. 

No great alterations have been made in the body of the 
work. Minor slips or obscurities of expression have been 


corrected, an additional sentence or paragraph here or there 
will, I hope, bring out more clearly the meaning. But the 
main principles and contentions of the book remain un- 
*afected. Special reference is made to the important 
work of Professor A. N. Whitehead, who is partly influenced 
by Professors Alexander and Lloyd Morgan, and who is 
evidently wrestling with the same problem as myself, 
though from a different standpoint and on different lines. 
Even so, however, there is a striking similarity in the 
solutions suggested. 


February 1927. 


THIS work deals with some of the problems which fall 
within the debatable borderland between Science and 
Philosophy. It is a book neither of Science nor of Philo- 
sophy, but of some points of contact between the two. To 
my mind it is the surface of contact between the two that will 
prove fruitful and creative for future progress in both, and 
to which special attention should be directed. Some border 
problems between the two are here considered in the light 
of recent advances in physical and biological science. And a 
re-examination of fundamental concepts in the light of these 
advances reveals the existence of a hitherto neglected 
factor or principle of a very important character. This 
factor, called Holism in the sequel, underlies the synthetic 
tendency in the universe, and is the principle which makes 
for the origin and progress of wholes in the universe. An 
attempt is made to show that this whole-making or holistic 
tendency is fundamental in nature, that it has a well-marked 
ascertainable character, and that Evolution is nothing 
but the gradual development and stratification of progressive 
series of wholes, stretching from the inorganic beginnings 
to the highest levels of spiritual creation. This work deals 
with our primary concepts of matter, life, mind and person- 
ality in the light of this principle, and discusses some of the 
problems of Evolution from this new point of view. The 
discussion is not technical, specialist or exhaustive in any 
sense. It is intended to sketch and explain the general lines 
of argument rather than to go into details. It is especially 
the fundamental concept of Holism which I wish to explain 
and justify, as well as the scientific and philosophic view- 
point to which it leads. The detailed elaboration must be 
left to more competent hands and to those favoured with 



more leisure than I can find in a busy public life. I have 
tried to sketch the general lines of reasoning in a way which, 
while I hope scientifically accurate so far as they go, are yet 
popular enough to be readily understood by readers with 
a fair average reading in general science. 

It is my belief that Holism and the holistic point of view 
will prove important in their bearings on some of the main 
problems of science and philosophy, ethics, art and allied 
subjects. These bearings are, however, not fully discussed 
in this work, which is more of the nature of an introduction, 
and is concerned more with the laying of foundations than 
with the superstructure. I have no time at present to do 
more than write an introductory sketch ; but I hope in the 
years to come to find time to follow up the subject and to 
show how it affects the higher spiritual interests of mankind. 
The old concepts and formulas are no longer adequate to 
express our modern outlook. The old bottles will no longer 
hold the new wine. The spiritual temple of the future, while 
it will be built largely of the old well-proved materials, will 
require new and ampler foundations in the light of the 
immense extension of our intellectual horizons. This little 
book indicates the lines along which my own mind has 
travelled in the search for new and more satisfactory concepts. 

A generation ago, when I was an undergraduate at Cam- 
bridge, the subject of Personality interested me greatly, and 
I wrote a short study on " Walt Whitman : a Study in the 
Evolution of Personality," in order to embody the results I 
had arrived at. This study was never published, but the 
subject continued at odd intervals to engage my attention. 
Gradually I came to realise that Personality was only 
a special case of a much more universal phenomenon, 
namely, the existence of wholes and the tendency towards 
wholes and wholeness in nature. In 1910 I sought relief 
from heavy political labours in an attempt to embody my 
new results in a study called " An Inquiry into the Whole/' 
which also was not published. I had no time to return to 
the subject until, in 1924, a change of government released 
me from burdens which I had continuously borne for more 


than eighteen years. When I came to read once more the 
MS. of fourteen years earlier I found much of the scientific 
setting out of date and I found my conception of Holism 
had also altered in certain respects. I therefore decided once 
more to make a fresh start with my study of wholes and 
Holism in nature. The present work is the first-fruits of this 
fresh effort. The aspects and bearings of Holism in which I 
am mainly interested are not yet reached in this study, 
which, as I have said, is of an introductory character. But I 
feel that unless I now make a determined attempt to pre- 
pare at least a part of my inquiry for publication, it will in 
all probability never get beyond the incubation stage in 
which it has remained so many years. This I would person- 
ally regret, as I think that in Holism we have an idea which 
may perhaps prove valuable and fruitful, and which for 
better or worse should be lifted out of the obscurity in which 
it has so long remained in my mind. Whether my partiality 
for the idea, which has been my companion throughout a 
crowded life, will be shared by others, time alone will show. 
The work has unfortunately had to be written in some- 
what of a hurry and amid the pressure of many other calls 
on my time. Nor in writing it have I had the advantage of 
consulting any expert friends on details. This must be my 
excuse for any incidental mistakes or slips which may be 
found in it. 


Irene , Transvaal, 
September 1925. 
















INDEX 354 





Summary. In spite of the great advances which have been made 
in knowledge, some fundamental gaps still remain ; matter, life and 
mind still remain utterly disparate phenomena. Yet the concepts 
of all three arise in experience, and in the human all three meet and 
apparently intermingle, so that the last word about them has not yet 
been said. Reformed concepts of all three are wanted. This will 
come from fuller scientific knowledge, and especially from a re-survey 
of the material from new points of view. The fresh outlook must 
accompany the collection of further detailed knowledge, and nowhere 
is the new outlook more urgently required than in the survey of these 
great divisions of knowledge. 

Take Evolution as a case in point. The acceptance of Evolution 
as a fact, the origin of life-structures from the inorganic, must mean 
a complete revolution in our idea of matter. If matter holds the 
promise and potency of life and mind it is no longer the old matter of 
the physical materialists. We have accepted Evolution, but have 
failed to make the fundamental readjustment in our views which 
that acceptance involves. The old mechanical view- points persist, 
and Natural Selection itself has come to be looked upon as a mere 
mechanical factor. But this is wrong : Sexual Selection is admittedly 
a psychical factor, and even Natural Selection has merely the 
appearance of a mechanical process, because it is viewed as a statis- 
tical average, from which the real character of struggle among the 
concrete individuals has been eliminated. 

Nineteenth-century science went wrong mostly because of the hard 
and narrow concept of causation which dominated it. It was a 
fixed dogma that there could be no more in the effect than there was 
in the cause ; hence creativeness and real progress became impossible. 
The narrow concept of causation again arose from a wider intellectual 
error of abstraction, of narrowing down all concepts into hard definite 
contours and wiping out their indefinite surrounding " fields." The 
concept of " fields " is absolutely necessary in order to get back 


to the fluid plastic facts of nature. The elimination of their " fields " 
in which things and concepts alike meet and intermingle creatively 
made all understanding of real connections and inter-actions im- 
possible. The double mistake of analysis, abstraction or generalisa- 
tion has led to a departure in thought from the fluid procedure of 
nature. Abstract procedure with its narrowing of concepts and 
processes into hard and rigid outlines, and their rounding off into 
definite scientific counters, temporarily simplified the problems of 
science and thought, but we have outlived the utility of this pro- 
cedure, and for further advance we have now to return to the more 
difficult but more correct view of the natural plasticity and fluidity 
of natural things and processes. From this new view-point a re- 
survey will be made in the sequel of our ideas relating to matter, 
life and mind, and an attempt will be made to reach the funda- 
mental unity and continuity which underlie and connect all three. 
We shall thus come to see all three as connected steps in the same 
great Process, the nature and functions of which will be investigated. 

AMONG the great gaps in knowledge those which separate 
the phenomena of matter, life, and mind still remain un- 
bridged. Matter, life, and mind remain utterly unlike each 
other. Apparently indeed their differences are ultimate, and 
nowhere does there appear a bridge for thought from one to 
the other. And their utter difference and disparateness pro- 
duce the great breaks in knowledge, and separate knowledge 
into three different kingdoms or rather worlds. And yet they 
are all three in experience, and cannot therefore be so utterly 
unlike and alien to each other. What is more, they actually 
intermingle and co-exist in the human, which is compounded 
of matter, life, and mind. If indeed there were no common 
basis to matter, life, and mind, their union in the human 
individual would be the greatest mystery of all. What is 
in fact united in human experience and existence cannot be 
so infinitely far asunder in human thought, unless thought 
and fact are absolutely incongruous. Not only do they 
actually co-exist and mingle in the human, they appear to 
be genetically related and to give rise to each other in a 
definite series in the stages of Evolution ; life appearing to 
arise in or from matter, and mind in or from life. The actual 
transitions have not been observed, but are assumed to have 
taken place under certain conditions in the course of cosmic 


Evolution. Hence arise the three series in the real world : 
physical, biological and psychical or mental. These con- 
nections between them, which are based not on thought but 
on the facts of existence and experience, tend to show that 
they cannot be fundamentally alien and irreconcilable, and 
that some sort of a bridge between them must be possible, 
unless we are to assume that our human experience is 
indeed a mere chaotic jumble of disconnected elements. 

As I have said, the problem does not arise from the facts 
either of experience or of existence. The problem is one for 
our thought and our science. It is for our thought that the 
mystery exists, and it is for knowledge that the great gaps 
between the physical, the biological and the mental series 
arise. The solution must therefore ultimately depend on 
our more extended knowledge of these series and the dis- 
covery of interconnections between them. The great dark- 
nesses and gaps in experience are mostly due to ignorance. 
Our experience is clear and luminous only at certain points 
which are separated by wide regions of obscurity; hence 
the apparent mystery of the luminous points and of their 
isolation and unlikeness. Hence also the still greater 
mystery of the actual union of the three series in the 
threefold incarnation which constitutes human personality. 

But it is just this union which ought to warn us that the 
apparent separateness of these three fundamental concepts is 
not well founded in fact, and that a wider knowledge and a 
deeper insight might be able to clear up the mystery, at least 
to some extent, and to lead to some sort of union or harmony 
of these apparently unrelated or independent elements in 
our real world. More knowledge is wanted. Our physical 
science ought to provide the solvent for our idea of hard 
impenetrable inert matter, and in the third chapter I 
shall inquire in how far there are already the materials 
for such a solvent. Again, our biological science should 
dispel the vagueness of the concept of life, and replace 
it by a more definite meaningful concept, which will yet 
not depend on purely material or physical elements. At 
present the concept of life is so indefinite and vague that, 


although the kingdom of life is fully recognised, its govern- 
ment is placed under the rule of physical force or Mechanism. 
Life is practically banished from its own domain, and its 
throne is occupied by a usurper. Biology thus becomes a 
subject province of physical science the kingdom of Beauty, 
the free artistic plastic kingdom of the universe, is inappro- 
priately placed under the iron rule of force. Mind again, 
which is closest to us in experience, becomes farthest from 
us in exact thought. The concepts in which we envisage 
it are so vague and nebulous, compared with the hard and 
rigid contours of our concepts of matter, that the two appear 
poles asunder. Here too a reformed concept of mind might 
bring it much closer to a reformed concept of matter. And 
thus, out of the three at present utterly heterogeneous polar 
concepts of matter, life and mind it might be possible to 
develop concepts moulded more closely to fact and experience, 
freed of all adventitious and unnecessary elements of 
separateness and disparity, and forming (as in all true science 
they should rightly form) the co-operative elements and 
aspects in a wider, truer conception of Reality. It may be 
said that in making this demand for new concepts of matter, 
life, and mind we are imposing an impossible task on thought. 
We are asking it to go beyond itself and deal with matters 
entirely beyond its own proper world. Matter, it may be 
urged, is essentially outside and beyond thought, something 
hard and impervious to thought, an object to thought which 
thought can only just barely reach up to in its utmost effort, 
and no more. Life is, of course, not alien to thought in the 
same sense as matter, but still it also falls outside the province 
of thought, it also has a reality of its own beyond thought, 
and it also is a terminus to thought. How then could thought 
embrace these provinces, how could it be a measure of these 
provinces beyond its ken ; how could the part envisage the 
whole? Our standard of measurement is inadequate, our 
task therefore impossible. 

The answer is that, while mind or thought may not have 
made matter, it has undoubtedly assisted in making the 
concept of matter ; and this concept, based as it largely is on 


empirical tradition and inadequate knowledge, and covered 
with a thick over-burden of unsifted tradition, calls for 
a thorough overhauling. A reform of the concept of matter 
is urgently required, and is indeed amply justified by the 
unprecedented recent advances in physical science, and 
especially in our knowledge of the constitution of matter. 
And a reform will, as I shall show in the third chapter, bring 
matter considerably nearer to the concept of life. 

With regard again to the concept of life, what is most 
urgently required is that it should be rid of that haziness, 
indefiniteness, and vagueness \\hich makes it practically 
worthless for all exact scientific purposes. Biological 
science has not in recent years made the same gigantic 
strides forward in the knowledge of fundamentals that 
physical science has taken, and yet for Biology too the sky 
has considerably cleared, and what two or three decades ago 
was still hotly disputed is to-day generally accepted. Besides, 
the greatest development in Biology during this century 
has taken place in the science of Genetics, and the trend 
there has been steadily away from the hard mechanical 
conceptions which dominated Biology more than a generation 
ago. The time here too may be ripe for a reconsideration of 
some of the fundamental concepts and standpoints. I may 
express the hope that the masters of this science will not 
concentrate all their attention on special researches, how- 
ever promising the clues at present followed may be, but 
that they will find time for a reconsideration of the wider 
conceptions which is becoming urgently necessary. Unless 
Biology can succeed in clarifying and harmonising her 
fundamental conceptions there is risk of great confusion 
in a science in which old general ideas have persisted in 
spite of great progress in detailed knowledge and the 
elaboration of a host of new fruitful ideas. If in the sequel 
I join in the discussion of the foundations of Biology, not as 
entitled of right to speak but more in the character of a 
friendly spectator urging the importance of a certain point of 
view, I hope my presumption in so doing may be forgiven me. 

For welcome as any new and deeper knowledge would be 


on these high matters, the present situation calls even more 
urgently for fresh points of view. Matter, life, and mind 
are, so to speak, the original alphabet of knowledge, the 
original nuclei round which all experience, thought, and 
speculation have gathered. Their origin is purely empirical, 
their course has been shaped by tradition for thousands of 
years, and all sorts of discarded philosophies have gone 
towards the making of their popular meanings. In spite, 
therefore, of the great fundamental aspects of truth which 
they embody, the kernel of truth in them has become over- 
laid by deep deposits of imperfect and erroneous knowledge. 
Modern science and philosophy have repeatedly ventured on 
reforms, but the popular use of these terms tends to 
obliterate all fine distinctions. I do not believe that an 
abiding scientific or philosophic advance in this respect will 
be possible until a more exact nomenclature has been 
adopted. A particular suggestion towards such a reform 
I am going to advocate and develop in the sequel, but in the 
meantime I wish to emphasise how important it is, not 
merely to continue the acquisition of knowledge, but also to 
develop new view-points from which to envisage all our vast 
accumulated material of knowledge. The Copernican revo- 
lution was not so much a revolution in the acquisition of new 
knowledge, as in view-point and perspective in respect of 
existing knowledge. The most far-reaching revolutions in 
knowledge are often of this character. Evolution in the mind 
of Darwin was, like the Copernican revolution, a new view- 
point, from which vast masses of biological knowledge 
already existing fell into new alignments and became the 
illustrations of a great new Principle. And similarly 
Einstein's conception of General Relativity in the physical 
universe, whatever its final form may yet be, is a new view- 
point from which the whole universe and all its working 
mechanisms acquire a new perspective and meaning. 

More knowledge is undoubtedly required, but its acquisi- 
tion must go hand in hand with the exploration of new con- 
cepts and new points of view. It will not help merely to 
accumulate details of which, even in the special departments 


of the separate biological sciences, the masses are already 
becoming more than any individual mind can bear. New 
co-ordinations are required, new syntheses which will sum 
up and explain and illuminate the otherwise amorphous 
masses of material. While research is being prosecuted as 
never before, while in biological science great, and in the 
physical sciences unprecedented, progress is being recorded, 
the call becomes ever more urgent for a reconsideration of 
fundamental concepts and the discovery of new view-points 
which might lead to the formulation of more general prin- 
ciples and wider generalisations. Nowhere are new view- 
points more urgently called for than in respect of the funda- 
mental concepts of matter, life, and mind, of which the reform 
is overdue and the present state is rapidly becoming a real 
obstacle to further progress. And I may point out that the 
formulation of new view-points will depend not so much on 
masses of minute details, as on the consideration of the 
general principles in the light of recent advances, the collation 
and comparison of large masses of fact, and the survey of 
fairly large areas of knowledge. The road is to be dis- 
covered, not so much by minute local inspection as by wide 
roaming and exploration and surveying over large districts. 
Both methods are needed, and the question narrows itself 
down to one of comparative values. Just as happened in 
the cases of Newton and Einstein, so here too the new clues 
are more likely to be indicated by certain crucial dominant 
facts than by small increments of research. It would there- 
fore be a great mistake to let the completion of present 
detailed researches take precedence over the more general 
and urgent questions to which I am drawing attention. 

Let me in this connection mention one matter of crucial 
significance to which I think sufficient importance has not 
yet been attached. To-day I think it is generally accepted 
that life has in the process of cosmic Evolution developed 
from or in the bosom of matter, and that mind itself has its 
inalienable physical basis. I do not think that among those 
who have given thought and attention to these matters there 
are to-day any who seriously question this position. Life is 


no dove that has flown to our shores from some world beyond 
this world ; mind or soul is not an importation from some 
other universe. Life and mind are not mere visitants to this 
world, but not of this world. There is nothing alien in them 
to the substance of the universe ; they are with us and they 
are of us. The popular view still looks upon the association 
of life and mind with matter as a sort of symbiosis, as the close 
living together of three different beings, as the dwelling of life 
and the soul in the body of matter, just as in the organic world 
one plant or animal organism will be found normally living 
with and in another. This popular traditional view comes 
from the hoary beginnings of human thought and speculation, 
but it is definitely abandoned by all those who have assimi- 
lated the modern view-point of Evolution. For them in some 
way not yet fully understood, but accepted as an undoubted 
fact, both life and mind have developed from matter or 
the physical basis of existence. The acceptance of this fact 
must have far-reaching consequences for our world-view. 

But before I refer to these consequences let me point 
out how this acceptance affects the grave issues over which 
our fathers fought a continuous battle royal during the latter 
half of the nineteenth century. The materialists contended 
for this very point, namely, that life and mind were born of 
matter. From this priority of matter they proceeded (quite 
illegitimately) to infer its primacy and self-sufficiency in the 
order of the universe, and to reduce life and mind to a 
subsidiary and subordinate position as mere epiphenomena, 
as appearances on the surface of the one reality, matter. 
To use the Platonic figure, to them matter was the lyre, 
and the soul was the music of that lyre ; the lyre was the 
substantive and abiding reality, and the music a mere 
passing product. And thus the priority and dominance of 
matter made of life and the soul merely transient and 
embarrassed phantoms on the stage of existence. This 
materialism was most hotly resented and contested by those 
who held to the spiritual values and realities. They denied not 
only the primacy of matter but also its priority or that life or 
mind sprang from it and were dependent on it in any real 


sense. In fact they denied the principle of Evolution as 
undermining all the spiritual and moral values of life. Both 
sides, materialists and spiritualists alike, were under the in- 
fluence of the hard physical concepts of cause and effect which 
played such a great part in the science and philosophy of the 
nineteenth century. There could be nothing more in the 
effect than there was already in the cause; and if matter 
caused the soul, there could be nothing more in the soul 
than there already was in matter. In other words, the soul 
was merely an apparent and no real substantial advance 
on matter. The general validity of this argument was 
never questioned and was thoroughly believed in by both 
sides. Hence those who affirmed the theory of Evolution 
logically tended to be materialists, and those who were 
spiritualists were logically forced to deny Evolution. 

Without their knowing it the great battle raged, not over 
the facts of Evolution, but over a metaphysical theory of 
causation in which they both believed and were both wrong. 
Such is the irony of history. To-day we pick the poppies on 
the old bloody battlefield of Evolution, and can afford to be 
fair to both sides. The essential terms have changed their 
meaning for us. We believe in Evolution, but it is no more 
the mechanical Evolution of a generation or two ago, but a* 
creative Evolution. We believe in the growth which is 
really such and becomes ever more and more in the process. 
We believe in Genesis which by its very nature is epigenesis. 
For us there is no such thing as static evolution, a becoming 
which does not become but in its apparent permutations 
ever remains the same. The absolute equation of cause 
and effect, which was a dogma implicitly believed in by 
the men of that day, does not hold for us, as I shall in due 
course explain. The temperature has changed, the view- 
point has shifted, and to-day thoughtful men and women 
are sincere and convinced evolutionists, without troubling 
themselves over the dead and forgotten issue of materialism 
versus spiritualism. We accept the theory of descent, of 
life from matter, and of the mind from both. For educated 
men and women to-day Evolution is just as much part 


and parcel of their general outlook, of their intellectual 
atmosphere, so to say, as is the Copernican theory. 

As I said before, this is a fact with very far-reaching 
consequences. If we believe that life and mind come from 
matter, if they are evolved from matter, if matter holds the 
promise, the dread potencies of life and mind, it can for us 
no longer be the old matter of the materialists or the 
physicists. The acceptance of the view for which the 
materialists fought so hard means in effect a com- 
plete transformation of the simple situation which they 
envisaged. Matter discloses a great secret ; in the act of 
giving birth to life or mind it shows itself in an entirely 
unsuspected character, and it can never be the old matter 
again. The matter which holds the secret of life and mind is 
no longer the old matter which was merely the vehicle of 
motion and energy. The landmarks of the old order are 
shifting, the straight contours of the old ideas are curving, 
the whole situation which we are contemplating in the 
relations of matter, life and mind is becoming fluid instead 
of remaining rigid. The point to grasp and hold on to 
firmly is that the full and complete acceptance of Evolution 
must produce a great change in the significance of the 
fundamental concepts for us. Life and mind now, instead 
of being extraneous elements in the physical universe, 
become identified with the physical order, and they are all 
recognised as very much of a piece. This being so, it 
obviously becomes impossible thereupon to proceed to erect 
an all-embracing physical order in which life and mind are 
once more declared aliens. This cat and mouse procedure 
is simply a case of logical confusion. This in-and-out game 
will not do. If Evolution is accepted, and life and mind are 
developments in and from the physical order, they are in 
that order, and it becomes impossible to continue to envisage 
the physical order as purely mechanical, as one in which 
they have no part or lot, in which they are no real factors, 
and from which they should be logically excluded. If 
Evolution is right, if life and mind have arisen in and from 
matter, then the universe ceases to be a purely physical 


mechanism, and the system which results must provide 
a real place for the factors of life and mind. To my mind 
there is no escape from that argument, and its implications 
must have a very far-reaching effect on our ideas of the 
physical order, and on a biology in which mechanical views 
are still dominant. 

The point I have been trying to make is that our 
ultimate concepts need reconsideration, and that above all 
new view-points are necessary from which to re-survey the 
vast masses of physical and biological knowledge which have 
already accumulated. I have said that certain large domi- 
nant facts may be sufficient to lead to a new orientation of 
our ideas. And I have taken the accepted fact of Evolution 
as a case in point. The older materialists and the present- 
day mechanical biologists have both fought hard for the 
acceptance of Evolution as a fact, without realising that such 
an acceptance must inevitably mean a transformation of 
their view-points, and that both the meaning of the concept 
of matter and the idea of the part played by mechanism in 
biology must be seriously affected by such acceptance. It 
is clear that the full significance of the great dominant idea 
of Evolution and its effect on the ordering of our ultimate 
world-view are not yet fully realised, and that we are in" 
effect endeavouring simultaneously to go forward with two 
inconsistent sets of ideas, that is to say, with the idea 
of Evolution (not yet adequately realised) and the pre- 
Evolution physical ideas (not yet quite abandoned). This 
is, however, sheer confusion, and a clarification of our 
ideas and the realisation of new view-points have become 

Let me now leave the general fact of Evolution as bearing 
on our world- view and call attention to another and some- 
what similar case which arises in Darwin's theory of 
Descent. In that theory Natural Selection is usually but 
erroneously taken to be a purely mechanical factor. It is 
understood to operate as an external cause, eliminating 
the unfit in the struggle for existence, and leaving the 
fit in possession of the field to reproduce their kind and to 


continue the story of Evolution. Natural Selection, from 
whatever cause arising and in whatever way operating, is 
on this view taken to be merely a mechanical cause or factor, 
just as is a hailstorm which kills plants and animals with 
hailstones, or a drought which kills them from want of water. 
Whether the destruction arises from physical mechanical 
causes like storms or drought or lightning, or whether it 
arises from the action of living agencies in the organic 
struggle, makes no difference to the result, which is in 
either case the same. A broad generalised statistical view 
of the causes of elimination has been taken and Natural 
Selection, thus considered at large and in bulk, has assumed 
the appearance of a mere external mechanical factor. On 
this view of Natural Selection, therefore, Darwin's theory of 
Evolution has come powerfully to reinforce the generally 
prevalent mechanical position. The effect has been just 
the opposite to what one might have expected from a 
great biological advance. The Kingdom of life, instead of 
fighting for its own rights and prerogatives, has tamely 
and blindly surrendered to the claims of physical force 
and actually joined hands with it and contributed to 
its supremacy. The acceptance of Darwinism, therefore, 
so far from stemming the tide of mechanical ideas, has 
actually furthered and assisted it, and raised it to full 
flood. Through too broad and abstract a view of Natural 
Selection the mechanical ideas have invaded the domain of 
life, where opposition might have been expected, and through 
the conquest and occupation of that domain the mechanical 
position, which would otherwise have been confined to the 
material physical sphere, has been extended and powerfully 
consolidated. This result was due, as I say, to the generalised 
and abstract statistical concept of Natural Selection, irrespec- 
tive of the concrete manner in which the selection occurred 
in individual cases. 

There is, however, one form of Selection which cannot be 
thus indiscriminately dealt with. It arises not only from 
organic causes, but still more narrowly and quite indisputably 
from psychical causes. Darwin called it Sexual Selection, 


and in spite of the opposition of A. R. Wallace and others he 
attached great importance to it, and as time went on and he 
saw his great vision more clearly, he gave it an ever-growing 
emphasis in his theory of Descent. Natural Selection operates 
on the unfit by destroying them or killing them off ; Sexual 
Selection, on the contrary, has a more limited operation and 
applies only in respect of males, whose mating it promotes or 
handicaps by making them attractive or repulsive to females. 
I In other words it is a struggle among males for the possession 
of females, and in this struggle males are assisted not only 
by their superior strength or fighting powers, but also by their 
superior power of song or beauty or scent or general attrac- 
tiveness or excitiveness to females. It is clear that the real 
motive power of this form of selection is mostly emotional and 
psychical. The female is stimulated, excited, and attracted 
by superior fighting force or superior artistic endowments 
among males competing for her favour. And when one con- 
siders the degree of perfection to which the male forms have 
attained largely under this stimulus of the female sex instinct, 
one is struck with amazement at the emotional sensitiveness 
thus implied on the part of female insects, birds, and beasts, 
and at the wonderful subtlety and fineness of the emotional 
discrimination which has shaped the male forms. The beauty * 
of form and colour which characterises, for instance, the 
peacock's feathers is such that even our human eye can 
scarcely do justice to it. And yet on the principle of Sexual 
Selection that perfection of beauty is due to the amazing 
emotional sensitiveness and appreciation of the peahen, 
which through countless generations must have been 
attracted by the minute superiority of the one male over 
others scarcely inferior in this respect. And the same applies 
in regard to the wonderful power of song among male birds 
and all the other secondary male characters. And it makes 
no difference whether by his arts arid display the male 
makes a direct appeal to mating, or merely invites the 
female to his territory. The psychical emotional powers 
implied on the part of the female on this theory are 
so wonderful as to be almost unintelligible; in many 


respects they are superhuman, and would appear to 
throw an astonishing light on the unconscious psychical 
developments of what we are pleased to call the lower 
creatures. If secondary sexual characters with all thei* 
perfection of form and colour did originate and develop 
under the stimulus of Sexual Selection, we shall have to 
revise our views radically as to the psychical sensitiveness 
and endowments of large classes of these lower animals. 
If, for instance, the human female showed the same sensitive 
choice and discrimination for the superior male as the 
female bird or insect shows in her sensitive sex instinct, 
what supermen we sorry males in time would become ! I 
am afraid, however, that the theory of Sexual Selection 
as ordinarily understood does not tell the whole story, 
and that there is more in the sexual situation than appears 
from that theory. I shall refer to the subject again 
in Chapter VIII. But for my present purpose it is 
only necessary to emphasise that this form of selection 
is not mechanical but psychical. If Sexual Selection plays 
the great part in organic Evolution which Darwin, Weismann 
and many other great biologists assign to it, we can only 
conclude that to that extent at any rate the motive force in 
Evolution is essentially psychical and not merely mechanical. 
I would go further and, in opposition to current views, 
I would contend that even Natural Selection, in so far 
as it is really an organic struggle and not merely the 
pressure or age-long effect of the inorganic environment, 
is fundamentally psychical. The advance takes place 
generally because the more fit organism for its own 
purposes destroys the less fit organism. In its essence 
the organic struggle creates a psychical situation just 
as much as war among humans is a psychical situation. 
And it is only because we abstract from the situation its real 
character of individual struggle and view the total statistical 
effect of innumerable situations as itself a sort of personified 
operative force in the form of Natural Selection, that the 
appearance of a mechanical external factor is created, 
operating on Evolution from the outside and determining 


its course mechanically. Looked at in general, and at a 
distance in which all concrete cases are blurred in the general 
view, the struggle for existence among animals and plants 
seems to operate blindly and mechanically without any 
reference to that improvement of species which results. 
But this general struggle is actually composed of infinite little 
concrete struggles in which the fit destroy the unfit, and 
the idea of improvement is thus involved. And the 
trend of the struggle is towards organic progress actually 
because of the character of the little concrete struggles. 
I do not mean to say that the striving, struggling individual 
in nature intends to improve its species. But it does fight 
for itself or its family or its tribe ; and in so far as it is more 
" fit " than its beaten opponent it is in effect fighting the 
battle of organic progress. The psychical semi-purposive 
character of the little concrete struggles should thus impart 
a psychological almost purposive character to the generalised 
factor of Natural Selection. In fact the current view of 
Natural Selection is a very striking illustration of the way in 
which a so-called mechanical force or cause is gratuitously 
constituted by abstraction and generalisation and statistical 
summation from elements which in their individual character 
and isolation are undoubtedly psychical and sometimes even 
purposive. And this only shows how careful we must be to 
scrutinise concrete details and not to rest satisfied with large 
abstract generalisations, if we would know what really 
happens in nature. Abstraction and generalisation, how- 
ever useful and necessary for scientific purposes, do largely 
deprive real events of their true characters, which are vital 
to a correct understanding of reality. 

To sum up, therefore : apart from the influence of the 
physical environment, the motive and directive forces of 
organic Descent in the form of Natural and Sexual Selection 
are largely psychical and not merely mechanical. And 
this result of the special Darwinian theory is therefore in com- 
plete accord with the more general result which we derived 
from the consideration of Evolution in general. Both in 
Evolution as a whole and in Darwin's more special theory of 


organic Descent, life and mind are no mere shadows or unreal 
accompaniments of some real mechanical process ; they are 
there in their own right as true operative factors, and play a 
real and unmistakable part in determining both the advance 
and its specific direction. From the point of view of 
Evolution each of them must be looked upon as essentially 
a real vera causa. This does not affect what I have already 
said about the vagueness and unsatisfactoriness of their 
present concepts and the necessity of looking for more 
definite and adequate concepts. All I mean to say is that 
the things they stand for are real factors in nature and not 
mere words or appearances. In the sequel an effort will be 
made to give greater defmiteness to these concepts, and to 
determine the nature and character of the activity of these 
factors. Here it must suffice to emphasise that the nature 
of Evolution has been obscured by mechanistic conceptions, 
and that erroneous views as to the character and operation 
of causation have contributed to this misunderstanding. 
And it may be useful, before concluding this introductory 
chapter, to add a few remarks on this subject, to which I 
have already briefly referred above. 

The science of the nineteenth century was like its philo- 
sophy, its morals and its civilisation in general, distinguished 
by a certain hardness, primness and precise limitation and 
demarcation of ideas. Vagueness, indefinite and blurred 
outlines, anything savouring of mysticism, was abhorrent to 
that great age of limited exactitude. The rigid categories of 
physics were applied to the indefinite and hazy phenomena 
of life and mind. Concepts were in logic as well as in science 
narrowed down to their most luminous points, and the rest 
of their contents treated as non-existent. Situations were 
not envisaged as a whole of clear and vague obscure elements 
alike, but were analysed merely into their clear, outstanding, 
luminous points. A " cause," for instance, was not taken 
as a whole situation which at a certain stage insensibly 
passes into another situation, called the effect. No, the 
most outstanding feature in the first situation was isolated 
and abstracted and treated as the cause of the most out- 


standing and striking feature of the next situation, which 
was called the effect. Everything between this cause and 
this effect was blotted out, and the two sharp ideas or rather 
situations of cause and effect were made to confront each 
other in every case of causation like two opposing forces. 
This logical precision immediately had the effect of making 
it impossible to understand how the one passed into the 
other in actual causation. The efficient activity, which had 
of old been construed on the analogy of our voluntary 
muscular activity, was therefore resorted to in order to supply 
the explanation. As the voluntary muscular movement pro- 
duces external action, so material cause was supposed to 
produce a material effect. Even then the mind found it 
difficult to realise the passage from the one to the other. 
Every causation seemed to imply some action at a distance, 
unless cause and effect were in absolute contact. But we 
know that there is no such thing as absolute contact even in 
the elements of the most closely packed situation. Hence 
causation of this rigid type really became unintelligible. 
Not even the old fiction of an ether which embraced all 
material things, and as a vehicle made transmission of influence 
from one to the other possible, seemed able to overcome the 
contradictions into which thought had landed itself through 
its hard and narrow concepts of cause and effect. And in 
fact there is no way out of the impasse but by retracing our 
steps and recognising that these concepts are partial and 
misleading abstractions. We have to return to the fluidity 
and plasticity of nature and experience in order to find the 
concepts of reality. When we do this we find that round every 
luminous point in experience there is a penumbra, a gradual 
shading off into haziness and obscurity. A " concept " 
is not merely its clear luminous centre, but embraces 
a surrounding sphere of meaning or influence of smaller or 
larger dimensions, in which the luminosity tails off and 
grows fainter until it disappears. Similarly a " thing " 
is not merely that which presents itself as such in clearest 
definite outline, but this central area is surrounded by 
a zone of vague sense-data and influences which shades 


off into the region of the indefinite. The hard and abrupt 
contours of our ordinary conceptual system do not apply 
to reality and make reality inexplicable, not only in the case 
of causation, but in all cases of relations between things, 
qualities, and ideas. Conceive of a cause as a centre with a 
zone of activity or influence surrounding it and shading 
gradually off into indefiniteness. Next conceive of an effect 
as similarly surrounded. It is easy in that way to under- 
stand their interaction, and to see that cause and effect are 
not at arm's length but interlocked, and embrace and 
influence each other through the interpenetration of 
their two fields. In fact the conception of Fields of force 
which has become customary in Electro-Magnetism is 
only a special case of a phenomenon which is quite 
universal in the realms of thought and reality alike. 
Every " thing " has its field, like itself, only more 
attenuated; every concept has likewise its field. It is in 
these fields and these fields only that things really happen. 
It is the intermingling of fields which is creative or causal 
in nature as well as in life. The hard secluded thing or 
concept is barren because abstract, and but for its field it 
could never come into real contact or into active or creative 
relations with any other thing or concept. Things, ideas, 
animals, plants, persons : all these, like physical forces, have 
their fields, and but for their fields they would be unintelli- 
gible, their activities would be impossible, and their relations 
barren and sterile. The abstract intelligence, in isolating 
things or ideas, and constituting them apart from their fields, 
and treating the latter as non-existent, has made the real 
concrete world of matter and of life quite unintelligible and 
inexplicable. The world is thus in abstraction constituted 
of entities which are absolutely discontinuous, with nothing 
between them to bridge the impassable gulfs, little or great, 
which separate them from each other. The world becomes 
to us a mere collection of disjecta membra, drained of all 
union or mutual relations, dead, barren, inactive, unintelli- 
gible. And in order once more to bring active relations into 
this scrap-heap of disconnected entities, the mind has to 


conjure up spirits, influences, forces and what not from the 
vasty deep of its own imagination. And all this is due to the 
initial mistake of enclosing things or ideas or persons in hard 
contours which are purely artificial and are not in accordance 
with the natural shading-off continuities which are or should 
be well known to science and philosophy alike. One of 
the most salutary reforms in thought which could be 
effected would be for people to accustom themselves to 
the idea of fields, and to look upon every concrete thing 
or person or even idea as merely a centre, surrounded by 
zones or aurae or penumbrae of the same nature as the centre, 
only more attenuated and shading off into indefiniteness. 
The concept of "fields" will be developed in subsequent 

There is one more remark I wish to make in regard to the 
activity of the abstract intelligence in construing our actual 
experience. I have already shown how in a special 
case this abstract activity has converted the psychical 
factor of Natural Selection into the semblance of a 
mechanical force. The risk of error is, however, much 
greater than that particular instance would serve to 
indicate. One may say that the analytical character of 
thought has a far-reaching effect in obscuring the nature 
of reality, which has to be carefully guarded against. In 
order to understand and explore any concrete situation, 
we analyse it into its factors or elements, whose separate 
operation and effects are then studied, in isolation so to say. 
This procedure is not only quite legitimate, but the only one 
possible, if we wish to understand and investigate the com- 
plex groupings of nature. It is the analytical method which 
science has applied with such outstanding success ; and but 
for this analysis of a complex phenomenon or situation into 
its separate elements and the study of these in isolation, it 
is fair to assume that very little progress would have been 
possible in the understanding of Nature with all her obscure 
processes. When the isolated elements or factors of the 
complex situation have been separately studied, they are 
recombined in order to reconstitute the original situation. 


Two sources of error here become possible. In the first 
place, in the original analysis something may have escaped, 
so that in the reconstruction we have no longer all the 
original elements present, but something less. I have 
already shown how " fields " escape in the idea of things 
and even in concepts. The same happens in regard to the 
elements into which a situation is analysed. And it is certain 
that in every case of analysis and reconstitution of a concrete 
situation something escapes which makes the artificial 
situation as reconstructed different from the original 
situation which was to be explored and explained. An 
element of more or less error has entered. This may be 
called the error of analysis. 

In the second place, we are apt after the analysis and 
investigation of the isolated elements or factors to look upon 
them as the natural factors of the situation, and upon the 
situation itself as a sort of result brought about by them. 
The abstract analytical elements thus become the real 
operative entities, while the concrete situation or phenomenon 
to be explained becomes their product or resultant. As a 
matter of fact, just the opposite is the case. We start in 
nature with the complex situation or sensible phenomenon as 
the reality to be explained. The analytical elements or 
factors are merely the result of analysis, and might even be 
merely abstractions. But because they are simpler and 
admit of closer scrutiny and experiment, we have come 
to look upon them as real or constitutive, and upon 
the situation from which they were abstracted or analysed, 
as artificial or constituted. Thus it has come about that 
in physical science, for instance, the elements of matter 
or force into which bodies have been analysed have 
tended to become the reals. Thus scientific entities like 
electrons and protons, and the physical energies or 
forces which they represent, are taken to be the real 
entities in nature, and sensible matter or bodies as 
something derivative and merely resulting from their 
activities. The abstract thus becomes the real, the concrete 
is relegated to a secondary position. This inversion of 


reality is very much the same procedure as was condemned 
in the case of the scholastic and other philosophers who 
attributed reality to universals instead of to concrete 
particulars. This may be called the error of abstraction 
or generalisation. Against both these forms of error we 
have to guard, if we wish faithfully to interpret Nature 
as we experience her. 

Analysis, abstraction and generalisation are indeed neces- 
sary as instruments of scientific understanding, but they also 
necessarily involve a departure from the concrete, and thus 
a possible element of error which in its ultimate effects may 
produce a serious distortion in our general view of reality. 
The concrete whole of a situation comes to be deduced from 
its abstract parts, and the principle of natural explanation 
thus proceeds by way of the parts to the whole. The whole 
as so understood is confined to its parts and comes to suffer 
from the same limitations as its parts. For the full concrete 
reality comes to be substituted a more limited scheme or 
pattern of parts, an aggregation rather than a natural 
organic synthesis. 

Our object in studying and interpreting Nature is to be 
faithful to our experience of her. We do not want to, 
recreate Nature in our own image, and as far as possible we 
wish to eliminate errors of observation or construction which 
are due to us as observers. We do not wish to spread Nature 
on a sort of Procrustes bed of our concepts and cut off here 
and there what appears surplus or unnecessary or even non- 
existent to our subjective standards. Our experience is 
largely fluid and plastic, with little that is rigid and with 
much that is indefinite about it. We should as far as 
possible withstand the temptation to pour this plastic 
experience into the moulds of our hard and narrow pre- 
conceived notions, and even at the risk of failing to explain 
precisely all that we experience we should be modest and loyal 
in the handling of that experience. In that way a good deal 
of what we have hitherto felt certain may once more 
become uncertain ; the solid and recognised landmarks may 
once more become blurred or shifting; the stable results 


of nineteenth-century science may once more become 
unstable and uncertain. But the way will be open for the 
truer constructions of the future, and the foundations of 
our future science will be more deeply and securely laid. 

In the following chapters a modest effort will be made to 
apply the above ideas and principles to a new interpretation 
of Nature, including, as it does, Matter, Life, Mind, and 
Personality. Matter, Life, and Mind, so far from being dis- 
continuous and disparate, will appear as a more or less 
connected progressive series of the same great Process. And 
this Process will be shown to underlie and account for the 
characters of all three, and to give to Evolution, both 
inorganic and organic, both psychical and spiritual, a funda- 
mental unity and continuity which it does not seem to possess 
according to current scientific and philosophical ideas. 1 

1 It is interesting to note how Professor A. N. Whitehead in his 
Science and the Modern World deals with the situation which I have 
tried to meet by means of the concept of " fields/' He also takes the 
view that the thing or event taken by itself in its spatial limits is a 
false simplification, which he calls the fallacy of Misplaced Concrete- 
ness. According to him, the mistake is due to the assumption of 
the simple location of things or events, in other words, to the mis- 
taken belief that a thing or event, as it appears in a definite space at a 
certain time, is all there is of it, and that it has nothing to do with 
other spaces or other times. This mistake of simple location is 
therefore identical with that pointed out above of confining a thing 
or event to its apparent spatial contours or boundaries, with nothing 
of it beyond them. 1 following the lead of physical science 
attempt to remedy the mistake by extending the thing or event into 
its " field " beyond these contours or boundaries. Professor White- 
head proceeds in a more radical and perhaps more correct way by a 
re-examination of the status of Space-Time in relation to things and 
events. In this way he arrives at the result that a thing or event 
is not confined to its own simple Space-Time location, and is thus not 
itself alone, but that it reflects the aspects of all other things and 
events from its particular standpoint, and thus in a sense involves 
their locations also. In the larger context of nature the thing or 
event is, therefore, a synthesis ot itself with the aspects or perspec- 
tives of everything else as mirrored from its standpoint. White- 
head's searching analysis leads to results which closely resemble those 
of Leibniz's Monadology, and involve a radical transformation of 
current practical and scientific concepts. The alternative concept 
of " fields," while less revolutionary and simpler to understand, 
seems to meet the purpose in view sufficiently well. On both views 
a thing or event transcends its apparent limits. That the popular 
view of " simple location " involves a most insidious and far- 
reaching error of abstraction is common ground to both Professor 



Summary. It is not only in organic Evolution that the old fixed 
concepts and counters of thought are breaking down. Recent 
advances in physical science have extended the revolution to the 
domain of the inorganic ; the fixity of the atom has followed that of 
species into the limbo of the obsolete. In many directions new 
concepts, more in harmony with the fluid creative process of nature, 
are called for. 

We begin with the new concepts of Space and Time, which in the 
system of Relativity are taking the place of the old Newtonian 
concepts still commonly accepted. The new ideas of Space and 
Time arose from researches in the higher mathematics and physics, 
and were primarily concerned with the relative character of all 
actual motion in the universe, and the mathematical and physical 
consequences of this relativity. Thus according to the mathematical 
physicists, to a moving observer a moving body appears to contract 
or to be shorter than it would be to a stationary observer, and the 
faster either of them moves the greater the contraction becomes. 
Time varies similarly, but in the opposite direction ; while the 
space of the moving body appears to contract, its time appears 
to expand, so that it takes a longer time to pass a point than it 
would do if viewed by a stationary observer. This joint and 
inseparable variation of Space and Time was not only most 
important in itself, but led directly to the revolutionary conception 
that neither of them existed independently, but that together 
they form the Space-Time medium of the real physical world. From 
this point of view bodies and things as merely spatial are not real 
but abstractions, while events, which involve both Space and Time, 
Action in Space-Time, are real and form the units of reality. The 
deposition of the old Space and Time and their replacement by 
Space-Time have been tested in the most searching way both in the 
immense world of astronomy and the most minute world of the atom, 
and in both cases the new concepts have been found to work -satis- 

The variation of Space and Time has led to the further conclusion 
that in a world of relative motion such as ours, where all observers 



and all observed bodies are in motion, all standards of measurement 
and all clocks of Time are themselves variable and give no constant 
results. But a varying standard must produce a warped or twisted 
field. Applying this conclusion to gravitation and the rotational 
movements of the universe, we find that the Space-Time medium of 
the universe is curved and warped and not of the homogeneous 
character which was attributed to Space and Time according 
to the old ideas. In all gravitational fields events happen in 
curves and follow the fundamental curves of the Space-Time 
universe. The result is that the entire universe acquires a definite 
structural character, and is not a diffuse homogeneity as was formerly 
supposed. According to the new Space-Time concept, structure, 
definite organised structure, becomes the essential characteristic 
of the physical universe, and this structural character accounts for 
many hitherto inexplicable phenomena. 

Newton's and Kant's ideas of Space and Time compared with 
those of Einstein. 

IN the preceding chapter I have tried to explain how the 
acceptance of the theory of Evolution must inevitably and 
profoundly affect our views as regards the nature of matter. 
In this chapter I proceed to inquire what bearing recent 
far-reaching physical researches and speculations have on 
this position. Our problem is to break away from the hard 
and narrow conceptions of the Victorian age, to see Nature 
once more in her fluid and creative plasticity, and to formu- 
late our conceptions afresh from this deeper point of view. 
A great change has come over our views of Nature, a change 
great enough in the end to amount to one of the fundamental 
revolutions in human thought. But we are still in the 
process of that change, and it is therefore difficult for us to 
realise its full significance. Three dates stand out in bold 
relief as inaugurating that change : 1859, when Darwin's 
Origin of Species was published; 1896, when Becquerel 
discovered Radioactivity; and 1915, when Einstein pub- 
lished his General Theory of Relativity. Round these three 
great events other discoveries of profound interest have taken 
and are still taking place ; and in the result our entire view- 
points and standpoints as regards Nature and reality are 
undergoing a fundamental change which must in the end 
affect every province of human thought and conduct. The 


fixity of organic species is gone; the fixity of inorganic 
elements is going. The position is once more becoming 
fluid, the old rigid order is visibly dissolving, the fixed land- 
marks and beacon-points by which former generations steered 
their course in science are becoming submerged. And the 
task awaits the future out of this fluid situation and these 
instabilities once more to build a stable world of ideas, which 
will be in closer harmony with the reality around us and within 
us. One of the aspects of Darwin's Theory has already briefly 
engaged our attention in the last chapter, and other aspects 
of it will be considered in Chapter VIII. In the present 
chapter reference must be made to Einstein's General Theory 
of Relativity and the bearing it has on our ideas of space and 
time as the framework in which events are located, and the 
medium in which Evolution takes place. The resulting 
view of the universe as structural, and of the element of 
structure as fundamental to the universe and all its forms, is 
important for the subject and the argument of this work. 

People become frightened when they are invited to consider 
Einstein's theory. Its refined abstractions, its abstruse 
mathematical form, its complete novelty and reversal of 
ordinary common-sense view-points make it a terror to the, 
uninitiated. And yet I believe the Einstein view-point can 
be quite simply and intelligibly put. Indeed it must be so 
put if it is ever to become part and parcel of ordinary 
educated thought. We must distinguish between the simple 
and clear view-point itself, and the recondite mathematical 
processes by which it was reached, and the technical mathe- 
matical form in which it is expressed, and from which for 
all ordinary purposes it can be separated. The understand- 
ing and appreciation of the Relativity view-point are not 
dependent on a knowledge of the process by which Einstein 
reached that view-point. The result is quite distinct from 
the process. It is like groping our way through a long, dark, 
rough tunnel, and at the end emerging into the clear daylight 
beyond : it is not necessary for the appreciation of the new 
view that one should plunge back into the dark tunnel. 
Besides, I must frankly state my own lay impression that the 


Einstein theory, as distinguished from the broad view-point 
attained, has not yet found its final expression. All great 
truths are in their essence simple; and the absence of 
simplicity of statement only shows that the ultimate form 
has not yet been reached. The day may yet come when the 
ten recondite Einstein equations of gravitation may appear 
as but the scaffolding of the simpler structure yet to arise, 
the naturalness and inevitableness of which will be as evident 
to every educated person as the heliocentric conception of 
Copernicus has become. 

The Einstein theory arose originally from researches in 
the higher mathematics and physics, and a brief reference 
to this mathematical origin will be useful. Galileo 
and Newton were the fathers of the modern classical 
mechanics; they (and especially Newton) formulated 
the laws of moving bodies in an exact mathematical 
science. Now the germ of the new Relativity mechanics is 
the almost obvious fact that the motion of a body is never 
absolute, but is always relative to some other body or point. 
If this body or point of reference is stationary, Newton's 
laws of motion apply completely, and the geometry of 
Euclid also applies, so that the movements of bodies can be 
represented by geometrical figures. Such bodies are said 
to move in Euclidean space, which is the same and homo- 
geneous all through and in all directions. Now since New- 
ton's time a great deal of attention has been given to the 
case where the body of reference or the observer is not 
stationary but is also in motion. This case is important, 
because it is actually that of all bodies in our universe, in 
which all observers or points of reference are themselves in 
motion. A point on the earth, for instance, rotates with a 
certain velocity round the centre of the earth, while the earth 
again rotates with another velocity round the sun. The sun 
itself is not stationary but moving with reference to some 
star in the constellation Hercules, which is itself in motion 
with reference to the star stream of the Milky Way. It 
is this case of the moving observer or point of reference 
with which Einstein's theory deals, and it is therefore 


clear that this theory faces the problem of motion as 
it actually exists in the universe. The impression of 
rest or stationariness to us as observers in the universe 
is a mere illusion, and the great service of Einstein was 
to explore this illusion and to show in exact mathematical 
form to what extent it affects our vision and judgment of 
movement in the world. Let us therefore take the case of 
moving observers. Now when a moving object (say a train 
in motion) is viewed by an observer in motion (say an 
observer in a motor-car moving on a road parallel to the 
train), certain curious results have been worked out by 
Fitzgerald and Lorentz, of which the following are two 
important samples : 

(A) The train appears a little shorter than it would to a 
stationary observer. 

(B) The time taken by the train to pass a point appears a 
little longer (or the train appears to move somewhat more 
slowly) than it would to a stationary observer. 

In other words, to a moving observer the length or the 
space occupied by a moving body is smaller in the direction 
of its motion than it would appear to a stationary observer^; 
and similarly the time taken by the observed body to pass 
a point will be longer. And the faster the observer 
or observed body moves, the more the space and time 
of the observed body will vary for him, compared to what 
they would do if he were at rest. These two variations 
of space and time are joint variations, happening simul- 
taneously but in an opposite direction, the one becoming 
less in proportion as the other becomes more to the 
moving observer. Space contracts and time expands in 
inverse proportions according to the rate of motion of a 
moving body of reference or a moving observer. One 
may generalise this result and say that so long as 
several observers move at different rates but uniformly 
and in straight lines with regard to each other, the velocity 
or speed of the moving body which they are observing 
follows the same law for all of them, as the proportional 


covariations of their respective spaces and times cancel each 
other out, so to say. This is a popular way of stating the 
main principle of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity > first 
published in 1905, in rigorous mathematical form. It 
explained the fact, which had been repeatedly confirmed by 
the most accurate experiments of Michelson and Morley, 
that the velocity of light is always the same, whatever the 
velocity of its source, and however great may be the 
difference in velocities of the moving observers who are 
trying to measure it. An observer moving away from a 
flash of light at a rate which is half that of light will 
see the flash at the same time as a stationary observer, 
and not later as one might suppose. The reason is that 
the time and space measures of the moving observer 
have changed jointly so as to neutralise the results which 
his motion might have on his observation. For all bodies 
or observers moving at ordinary terrestrial rates the 
change is so small as to be negligible, and it is only when one 
or both of them move at a rate approaching that of light 
that the apparent contraction and expansion become 
important and have to be considered in actual calculations. 

The two salient facts to bear in mind as a result of the 
above is : that to moving observers clocks and standards 
of measurement in motion are no longer absolute but vary 
according to the rates of motion of these observers or 
of the clocks or standards, and that there is this curious 
joint and opposite variation of the space and time 
measures of moving observers or bodies. In fact separately 
Space and Time must be mere abstractions, as in all actual 
movements they are always found in inseparable conjoint 

From this co- variation of Space and Time it is but a step to 
Minkowski's great idea, first formulated in 1908, that in 
natural events Space and Time are not independent factors, 
and that in the mathematical representation of events the 
correct way is to introduce time as a fourth dimension, not 
of space, but of the Space-Time continuum in which events 
really take place. Time is, of course, in many ways unlike 


space and is not another dimension of it, but this inseparable 
co-variation in all events which happen in nature makes it 
both feasible and proper that we should substitute the real 
Space-Time continuum of events for the old abstract three- 
dimensional space of bodies or points in space. In passing 
it may here be pointed out that the old notion of the separate 
reality of space and of time involved both the errors of 
analysis and of abstraction to which attention was drawn in 
the last chapter, and Minkowski's brilliant idea has simply 
brought us back to the natural fact as it occurs in experience, 
where nothing ever happens in space alone or in time alone, but 
always in both together, and where objects are not observed 
by themselves, but always as elements or items in the stream 
of perceived events. Nay more, it can be easily shown that 
the very ideas of Space and Time interpenetrate each other 
and are dependent on each other. Succession or the time- 
series, and co-existence or the space-series, are necessary to 
each other and would not be even intelligible apart from 
each other. For the succession (time) would perish at each 
step and would not even form a series, unless it had enduring- 
ness or co-existence (space). And similarly the co-existence 
(space) would stop at its first step and would not be spread 
out or extended unless it had also succession (time). 

To Einstein this concept of a Space-Time continuum 
proved most welcome and fruitful, and he proceeded to 
apply it to the explanation of all movements in the universe, 
not only to uniform and rectilinear motions which take place 
in uniform Euclidean space, but also to rotating and accele- 
rated motions which take place in a gravitational field of a 
non-Euclidean character. 

His first step was to illustrate, by purely theoretical 
considerations, the fact that a body under the influence of a 
constant force, and therefore moving with a constantly 
increasing acceleration, would to an observer situated on it 
behave in exactly the same way as a body acted on by 
gravitation. Thus suppose a man enclosed in a cage so that 
he cannot observe any other body and cannot notice his own 
motion. And suppose this cage suspended in distant space 


where there is no gravitation. And suppose further that 
this cage is drawn upward with a constant force, so that it 
moves faster and faster with a constantly increasing accelera- 
tion. In truth the case is therefore one of acceleration. But 
by the enclosed observer this motion and acceleration of the 
cage and himself will not be noticed. He would only feel 
like being pulled down by his own weight. If he loses any 
object from his hand, it will fall to the bottom of the cage 
like a stone dropped on the earth. What is more, the rate 
at which the object drops is the same, whatever its figure or 
size or amount of material. The fact italicised is distinctive 
of gravitation. In other words, the man in the cage will 
think that he and the cage and the object therein are all acted 
upon by gravitation. What is really due to acceleration 
appears to be a case purely and simply of gravitation. Thus 
we see acceleration and gravitation are really the same 
phenomena and only different in appearance to observers. 
Acceleration and gravitation are, in fact, equivalent expres- 
sions. Einstein's closed cage may yet become as historic 
as Newton's falling apple. 

Now take rotation, which is simply a special case of 
acceleration. And let us imagine an observer situated on a 
rotating or revolving plane circular disc and proceeding to 
measure the area of the disc and the rate at which it is 
revolving. He has two identical clocks, one of which he puts 
near the centre of the disc and the other near the circum- 
ference in order to take some time measurements. When he 
proceeds to take the time of the clock near the centre he finds 
that it moves faster than when he proceeds to read the 
clock placed near the circumference. We have already seen 
why this is so. The motion of the disc at the centre is 
nil, and its motion at the circumference quite marked, and 
the times of identical clocks near these two points will 
therefore vary to the observer. And similarly the rate 
of any identical clock will vary according to the distance of 
its position on the surface of the disc from the centre, as the 
motions of all points on the disc will differ according to their 
distance from the centre, where the motion is slower. 


He then proceeds to apply identical measuring rods 
and finds the same continual variation. He finds that 
the identical measuring rods vary in length according 
to their position on the disc; one placed on the circum- 
ference is shorter than one placed near the centre. 
And the differing lengths of the rods will measure up 
different spaces. The observer will become utterly con- 
fused, and will finally conclude that the spaces on the 
disc are not the same everywhere and in all directions, but 
appear to vary in all directions and to be twisted, warped 
and curved. Or, as we would say, the space of the disc is 
not straight-line homogeneous uniform Euclidean space, but 
curved and non-Euclidean. Taking the variations of the 
spaces and times on the rotating disc together, we conclude 
that the disc is not a Euclidean space but a non-Euclidean 
Space-Time continuum. 

As we have seen that the phenomena of acceleration 
(including rotation) and gravitation are equivalent, these 
considerations in reference to the rotating disc apply also to 
every gravitational body. We know that gravitation acts 
at a distance from the centre of the gravitational body; 
in fact every such body is surrounded by a gravitational 
field far larger than itself. Therefore the non-Euclidean 
characters will also distinguish the Space-Time continuum 
in this field. In other words, movements and happenings 
in this field will not follow the law of a uniform time and a 
homogeneous identical space in all directions. They will 
take place in curves, exactly as on our rotating disc. A body 
falling in space through such a field will on entering 
it and while in it follow, not a straight path, but 
the curve which coincides most closely with its original 
straight path ; a ray of light passing through the field will 
similarly follow the nearest curve instead of a straight line. 
And indeed any physical event within that field will, in so far 
as it is of a translational character, follow the curve on which 
it happens to take place. These deductions from theory 
have been experimentally verified in the most important 


According to this theory the mysterious " attractive " 
power of matter, which is called gravitation, assumes quite 
a different character. The apparent attraction is simply the 
curved or bent paths due to the movements in the universe 
of masses charged with energy, which (except as pushes and 
pulls on our bodies) we ourselves do not particularly notice as 
we happen to partake of the same movements as the observed 
phenomena. This, however, does not make of gravitation an 
unreality, due to the subjective vagaries of the observer. 
Gravitation, as we have seen, now becomes the curves of the 
real Space-Time world ; it marks the inevitable paths which 
all events must follow in the physical universe. So far 
from being subjective or merely relative to the observer, 
gravitation becomes the very structure of the real world and 
connotes the stratification which characterises the vast fields 
of the Space-Time continuum. Our whole conception of the 
universe is altered. Instead of conceiving the universe as 
consisting of material bodies floating in a medium of uniform 
homogeneous space, we now look upon the vast variable 
masses of " matter " associated with high-speed energies as 
developing huge " fields " called Space-Time, in which 
the curves of the lines can be calculated and the course of 
events happening in them can be predicted. For events 
follow the curves and their future course can be calculated, 
once their position on the curves is determined. The 
physics of Nature thus becomes in part an annex 
of the geometry of Space-Time, and a new power is 
placed in the hands of man, limited only by the limitations 
of his mathematical insight and genius. The distance be- 
tween mind and matter is immeasurably reduced, and matter 
appears to become plastic to the moulding power of mind. 
The concept of the " field " becomes all-important in science 
and in thought. The " field " of matter is simply the curved 
structure of the real Space-Time, which extends far beyond 
sensible matter itself. Throughout its vast " fields " the 
universe assumes a form not very much unlike the curved 
contours and unevennesses which we associate with the 
physical appearance of this globe. The contours of the 


unseen universe of our field which surrounds us follow very 
much the lines which meet our eye on sea and land. But 
these lines are not mere empty form. They are not mere 
curves of beauty; they are real and causal, for they 
determine the course of events in the universe. The 
peripheries of rotating bodies are such curves, the planets 
move round the suns in such curves; light is propagated 
along such curves; in fact these curves are the path- 
ways of the physical universe which all physical events 
must follow. The inmost nature of the universe is active 
Energy or Action and involves the interplay of tre- 
mendous activities, whose result is expressed in these 
curves; and these curves are nothing but the actual 
orientation or direction of events in the Space-Time 
framework of the universe. 

What is or would be the situation beyond the material 
universe and its vast fields ? There we pass beyond the 
bounds of gravitation, where there is neither rotation 
nor acceleration, where " bodies " (if such astral ab- 
stractions could be imagined) persist in their state of rest 
or of uniform motion in a straight line according to 
Newton's First Law. There Space-Time, if it could be 
imagined to exist, would not be warped or curved, but would 
be homogeneous and continuous, and would be exactly the 
form of empty nothingness. In fact, homogeneous Euclidean 
Space-Time beyond all real fields is simply a limiting con- 
ception of thought and would correspond to nothing that we 
have any knowledge of in our universe, in which the great 
masses of matter everywhere produce curved fields. 

It may be interesting, in conclusion, to point out the 
difference between this conception of Space-Time in the 
Relativity Theory and the conceptions of Space and Time 
formulated by Newton and Kant. For Newton both Space 
and Time were absolutes ; that is to say, were real invariable 
permanent entities or characters of things and events. They 
were each homogeneous and continuous and therefore 
adequately expressible by the geometry of Euclid. There 
was nothing subjective about them. For Kant, who in other 



respects profoundly admired the Newtonian system, the great 
problem of knowledge was how to determine the relative con- 
tributions made to our knowledge of the world by the sub- 
jective and objective factors respectively, and especially how- 
much and what the mind brought into the common pool of 
knowledge and experience. His answer in effect was that 
the action of the mind was creative in experience and that 
it contributed to our knowledge (a) the elements of Space 
and Time which are nothing but the mind's own sensuous 
forms of intuition or perception imposed on the materials 
of sense and experience, and (b) the general conceptual system 
of knowledge which follows from the categories of the Under- 
standing, and (c) certain ultimate regulative principles of the 
human Reason. According to this view, therefore, Space and 
Time are nothing but the necessary forms of man's sensuous 
perception ; they do not exist in external reality, but are 
imposed by the mind on all objects of sense. While accepting 
the homogeneous universal Euclidean characters which New- 
ton ascribed to Space and Time, Kant denied that they were 
real entities or characters of things or events. If these 
characters belonged to things, Kant failed to understand 
how the a priori synthetic character of mathematical 
knowledge was possible, and he could only explain this fact 
by making the sensuous form of things a subjective con- 
tribution of the mind itself. According to him the uni- 
versal forms of Space and Time in experience were due, 
not to the things or the world to which they seemed to 
belong, but purely and simply to the perceiving mind 
which invested all things or events with them. 

In contradistinction to both these theories, Space and Time 
in the theory of Relativity as conjoint co-ordinate forms 
belong both to the mind and to things ; and the whole effort 
of Einstein was to separate the subjective appearance from 
the objective reality, to separate the relative, variable and 
disturbing contribution made by the observing mind from 
the real permanent Space-Time factor which is inherent in 
the physical universe. If the confirmation of theory by 
facts means anything it must be admitted that Einstein has 


been singularly successful in his analysis and evaluation of 
these two subjective and objective aspects of the Space- 
Time concept. That Space and Time were not, on the one 
hand, merely subjective conditions of experience as Kant 
held, nor, on the other, merely objectively given elements 
for experience as Newton held, but that they were both 
subjective and objective contributions to experience, might 
have been the discovery of a sound psychology or episte- 
mology. But that these two factors of Space and Time have 
been fused into one synthesis, from which both the subjective 
and objective elements have been properly sorted out and 
isolated and valued and rigorously determined, is an achieve- 
ment of the most outstanding importance not only for 
science but also for philosophy. It is unnecessary to point 
out that in the Theory of Relativity Space and Time are not 
metaphysical conceptions or forms. The infinite homo- 
geneous Space and Time which to Kant were mental pre- 
suppositions and preconditions of all sensuous experience, 
and to Leibniz the pre-established permanent universal order 
of co-existence and succession among things, are to Einstein 
mere limiting pseudo-concepts, metaphysical abstractions 
without relation to our real experience. In our experience 
Space and Time are given elements just as colour, weight and 
the rest. The task of science is to co-ordinate these elements 
in an intelligible form, and in doing so Einstein has simply 
explored them as if they were real physical experience like 
the rest. The result is the elimination of certain historic 
errors from the concepts of Space and Time, and the deter- 
mination of their physical qualities in line with the rest of 
our physical experience and concepts. The Space-Time 
continuum, instead of being a vague, homogeneous, formless, 
metaphysical concept, becomes a part of physical reality, 
becomes the " field " of the material world, with a definite 
structure of its own. Structure, real differentiated structure, 
becomes the inmost form of the real Space-Time world. 
The close bearing of this on the main argument of this work 
will appear from the following chapters. 



Summary. Coming now from the Space Time continuum to 
Matter we find the feature of structure much more conspicuous and 
important. The physical and chemical constitution of matter is 
almost entirely a matter of structure. Chemistry has traced matter 
to its ultimate units or atoms, and to the combination of these into 
molecules and substances according to structural schemes dependent 
on the placing and spacing of the different units in the various 
chemical combinations. The New Physics has carried the process 
a step further back by analysing atoms into their constituent elec- 
trons and protons, or units of negative and positive electricity. 
These units are so arranged structurally as to approximate to the 
form of more or less complicated solar systems, with central 
positive nuclei and revolving planetary electrons. The explanation 
of the physical and chemical properties of matter has been traced 
to the structural arrangements in these atomic systems and the 
number and changes in position of their various units. Matter is 
thus a structure of energy units revolving with immense velocities 
in Space-Time, and the various elements arise from the number and 
arrangement of the units in an atom; as these can be varied, the 
transmutation of elements becomes possible, as in Radioactivity. 
The peculiar serial character of the Periodic Table of the elements is 
thus due to the number of units and their architecture in the atoms. 
Atomic Weights and Atomic Numbers reflect this inner arithmetical 
character of the atoms. 

The states of matter, as gaseous, liquid or solid, are also the results 
of the residual surface forces in atoms and molecules, due to their 
inner structure. Crystal structure is another result of inner atomic 
structure. But perhaps the most remarkable state of matter is a 
combination of the other states ; this is called the colloid state, in 
which very minute particles of one material are dispersed throughout 
another. This colloid state is much more universal than is commonly 
thought, and is specially important because the protoplasm of cells 
is organised in this state. The minuteness of the dispersed particles 
means the exposure of a maximum surface area compared to their 
mass. These surfaces bring into play the surface forces and show 
peculiar affinities or selective properties of various kinds, and in this 
way certain chemical and physical reactions are facilitated at these 
surfaces, which make them useful in the industries as well as in the 


processes of organic life. In fact, some reactions in the colloid state 
approximate strangely to the biological type. 

From the above analysis of the structural energetic constitution of 
matter certain conclusions can be drawn which very much narrow 
the gulf between matter and life. 

In the first place, the old view of matter as inert and passive dis- 
appears completely. Matter like life is intensely active, indeed is 
Action in the technical physical sense ; the difference is not between 
deadness and activity, but between two different kinds of activity. 
Through their common activities the fields of matter and life thus 
overlap and intermingle, and absolute separation disappears. 

In the second place, Radioactivity in matter plays a somewhat 
analogous r61e to Organic Descent in life. Both render fluid the old 
fixed entities and forms ; although the difference between them must 
not be minimised. Especially must it be recognised that Radio- 
activity is regressive, while Organic Descent is progressive. But 
this may be due to the extreme age of matter as compared with the 
youth of life in the history of the earth. 

In the third place, the Periodic Table of Chemistry has a distinct 
resemblance to the Systems of Botany and Zoology ; the concepts 
of families, genera and species could be applied to both. This shows 
that the characters of activity, plasticity and probably of develop- 
ment and genetic relationships apply to both the organic and inorganic 

In the fourth place, the structural character of matter indicates 
that it is also creative, not of its own stuff, but of the forms, arrange- 
ments and patterns which constitute all its value in the physical 
sphere. Just as life and mind are creative of values through the 
selective combinations and forms which they bring about, so matter 
also, instead of being dispersive, diffusive, and structureless, effects 
through its inner activities and forces structural groupings and com- 
binations which are valuable, not merely to humans, but in the order 
of the universe. But for its dynamic structural creative character 
matter could not have been the mother of the universe. 

In the fifth place, matter in its colloid state in protoplasm discloses 
properties and manufactures substances, such as chlorophyll and 
haemoglobin, which are necessary for the functions of life, and which 
go far toward bridging the great gap between the two. In its colloid 
state we thus see matter reaching up to the very threshold of life. 
A great leap may have taken place across what remained as a gap. 
A great " mutation " may have occurred. But as life probably 
began on a much lower level than the lowest forms we know to-day, 
the mutation may after all not have been so great. In any case a 
close scrutiny of the nature of matter, as revealed by the New 
Physics, and especially colloid chemistry, brings it very near to the 
concept of life. 


LET us now proceed to consider how recent advances in 
our knowledge of the constitution of matter have empha- 
sised the importance of this same feature of structure in the 
physical universe. Chemistry had for a century been explor- 
ing with great success the structure and constitution of 
matter, but the New Physics of Radioactivity has during 
the last twenty years proved a most powerful aid to Chemistry 
and led to discoveries which are little short of revolutionary. 
To Chemistry was due the analysis of matter into a certain 
number of elements, each with its own physical and chemical 
properties ; the discovery of the atom as the ultimate unit 
of each element of matter ; the union of atoms of each element 
into simple molecules of that element, and the union of atoms 
of various elements into compound molecules. The com- 
binations of elements in definite quantitative proportions 
was explained as the union of one or more of the atoms of 
these elements with each other. From this it might be 
inferred that the combinations of Chemistry were like the 
combinations of Arithmetic, and that the whole numbers of 
Arithmetic might properly represent the atoms of Chemistry 
and their combinations into compounds. This inference has, 
however, only been actually verified by the recent physical 
discoveries. It was not only the fact of numerical or 
quantitative structure that was important to Chemistry ; 
the spatial or positional structure of matter, the order of 
placing and spacing of the atoms in the chemical substance, 
the architecture of matter became almost equally important, 
and in many cases the properties of a substance could only 
be explained on the basis of its real or supposed inner 
structure and configuration. Thus molecules of carbon 
could be either coal or graphite or diamond, and this great 
dissimilarity in the same chemical substance was explained 
as the result of the difference of structure in the placing 
and spacing of the atoms in the carbon molecule. Sulphur 
and many other elements show a similar polymorphous or, 
as it is called, allotropic character. It was, however, when 
chemists had to explain the different characters of quite 
distinct chemical compounds, which yet had the same 


chemical composition, that the importance of " structure " 
and constitution became most highly accentuated. Such 
compounds are called isomers. So important is structure 
to matter that without it one may safely say that 
organic chemistry becomes unintelligible. The more 
complex the composition of substances (as in organic 
chemistry), the larger the number of permutations and 
combinations that are possible in the relative positions and 
placings of atoms or groups of atoms in the make-up of 
matter, the more important does the phenomenon of 
isomerism become, and the greater is the part played by 
structure and configuration in the building up of matter. 
The chemical formula is no longer sufficient, it is a mere 
abstract notational shorthand which may be thoroughly 
misleading in the absence of a diagrammatic representation 
of the constitution or structure of the compound substance. 
The crystal forms of solids illustrate not only the structural 
character of chemical substances, but also the invariable way 
in which the same substance follows the same pattern of 
structure. To Chemistry structure, or the proper representa- 
tion of relative positions of atoms or their groups in the 
three dimensions of space, has become indispensable. And 
the New Physics has now gone a step further and shown that 
this minute structure of the chemical atom and compound 
is not static in space, but dynamic and intensely active in 
that Space-Time continuum which we have already found 
dominant in the relations of astronomical bodies and 
events. Space-Time prevails at both ends of physical 
infinity and everywhere between. 

To Chemistry the atom was a hard indivisible unit, the 
constitution of which (if there was any) could not be known ; 
nor could it explain chemical affinity or why atoms combined 
into molecules; nor could it explain the strange serial 
character of the Periodic Law in reference to the atomic 
weights and the properties of atoms. These triumphs were 
reserved for the New Physics, and they have traced structure 
back into the innermost recesses of the atom. The discovery 
of Radioactivity by Becquerel in 1896 at Paris was the first 


indication that the atom was not indivisible and could break 
up spontaneously in nature. The discovery in the previous 
year of the X-rays by Rontgen for the first time revealed the 
existence of invisible rays whose wave-length was as small 
as atoms, and the elaboration of the spectrum of these rays 
has provided an instrument of incredible power and accuracy 
in the investigation of the almost infinitesimally small 
phenomena of atomic structure. Then followed in 1897 the 
isolation by Sir J. J. Thomson of the ultimate unit of nega- 
tive electricity in the electron; and in 1900 Max Planck 
of Berlin University discovered what came to be known 
as the quantum, the unit of radiant action emitted by 
all radiant bodies or even dark bodies. The application of 
these new ideas and means of investigation by a number of 
brilliant researchers has led to the elucidation of the nature 
and constitution of the atom of matter in the theory which is 
specially associated with the names of Sir Ernest Rutherford 
and Professor Niels Bohr. Without entering into details 
which do not concern us, and simply to illustrate the element 
of " structure " in the atom with which we are dealing, I shall 
summarise the salient points in this theory. According to 
it, an atom is an electrical constellation somewhat like our 
gravitational solar system ; the centre of the system being a 
minute very massive nucleus positively electrified, round 
which revolve equally minute electrons or negative particles 
of very small mass so small that in the Hydrogen atom, 
for instance, the nucleus has 1835 times the mass of the 
electron. The electrons revolve at various rates in their 
different orbits, all of which can be measured through their 
X-ray spectrum; and an electron can suddenly and all at 
once jump from one orbit to another, increasing its orbit 
when it receives one or more quanta of radiation from some 
outside body, or decreasing its orbit and taking one nearer 
the central nucleus, and in the act of doing so releasing one 
or more quanta of radiation. It is these quanta of radiation, 
released when the electron jumps to a narrower orbit in the 
atom, that account for the light which comes from the sun 
and the stars, and in fact all radiant bodies ; and it is the 


definite quanta of radiation so emitted which account for the 
peculiar spectrum of the elements in the spectroscope. Why 
atomic light should be emitted in these definite amounts or 
quanta is not yet known, but it is known that the quanta 
follow a scale somewhat similar to the notes in music, and 
we may therefore think of light as the music of the spheres, 
in which the total harmony or light effect is made up of 
definite discontinuous notes instead of continuous variations 
of light. The wonderful thing is that in regard to all these 
matters we have the most minute and accurate knowledge : 
the amount of a quantum ; the mass, velocity and orbits of 
an electron ; the mass and velocity of rotation of a nucleus, 
and the total sphere of an atom, with its small nucleus and 
electrons and vast empty spaces, comparable to the empty 
spaces in our solar system. The electron is by now very 
well known, and indeed all electric currents are nothing but 
streams of free electrons. But of the corresponding positive 
unit which is called a proton next to nothing is known, as 
the proton has never yet been isolated. Now the nucleus of 
an atom may be simple or complex; it may be a proton, 
as in the case of the Hydrogen atom, or it may consist of 
several protons, some of which, again, may be neutralised 
by closely associated electrons, and some remain unneu- 
tralised, so that the nucleus as a whole always remains 
positively electrified. In the Hydrogen atom there is one 
proton in the nucleus, and hence there is one electron 
revolving round it. In the Helium atom, again, there is a 
nucleus of four protons, two of which have electrons in 
association with them, and two not ; the nucleus, therefore, 
has two positive units, to which correspond two electrons 
which revolve round the nucleus in the atom. The com- 
bination of four protons and two electrons in the Helium 
nucleus appears to persist in other nuclei, so that the nuclei 
of the other elements appear to be a combination of simple 
(Hydrogen) and complex (Helium) nuclei. The number of 
revolving electrons in an element always corresponds to the 
number of unsatisfied positive units in the nucleus, which 
is called the atomic number of the element, and which is 


always an integer; and thus the atomic numbers of 
the elements run from i in the case of Hydrogen to 
2 in the case of Helium, 6 in the case of Carbon, and so on 
to 92 in the case of Uranium, the heaviest of all the known 
elements. Of these 92 possible elements, very few have not 
yet been isolated, although their atomic numbers and weights 
and positions in the Periodic Table and their approximate 
properties are known. 1 Atomic weights are in every case 
integers, the apparent exceptions being cases where we 
have to do with isotopes or elements of which the atoms 
are not all identically the same but slightly different in 
their electron contents. Thus the New Physics has inci- 
dentally explained the mystery of the Periodic Table. 

The mystery of the atom has now largely narrowed down 
to the nucleus, which consists of an inner revolving system 
of protons of which comparatively little is known except that 
they rotate round their centre with an enormous velocity 
probably not much less than that of light and that the 
quantum law as well as the mass law of Relativity holds 
with regard to them. As space or volume contracts with 
velocity in Space-Time, the mass of the nucleus increases 
with high speeds out of all proportion to its size, and 
the positive nucleus of the atom is therefore its virtual mass, 
the rest of the atom being either empty space or very light 
insubstantial electrons. Owing to its massiveness the nucleus 
of protons is therefore coming to be identified with matter, 
as if matter were ultimately only high-speed densely massed 
positive electricity. The proton may thus yet prove to be 
the fundamental unit of matter. The significance of this 
view is that it reduces matter simply to a form of energy, 
or rather Action, and therefore still further simplifies the 
scheme of the universe. 

There is another fact which shows the intimate relation 
between energy on the one hand and structure or mass on 
the other. The mass or atomic weight of the free Hydrogen 

1 If the claims to the recent discoveries of Hafnium, Masurium 
and Rhenium are allowed, only at most a couple of further elements 
await discovery. 


atom has been determined as 1-0077. ^ n the Helium 
nucleus, as we have seen, there are four protons or Hydrogen 
nuclei, but here their mass only appears as one. In other 
words, the free Hydrogen atoms or protons (they are practi- 
cally identical as regards mass) suffer a diminution of mass 
when they are concentrated into the Helium nucleus, as if 
in this nucleus, which is itself an inner constellation system, 
the protons and electrons are so close as to jam each other, 
and therefore move more slowly and thereby decrease their 
mass or matter. When the Helium nucleus is again split up 
into Hydrogen protons, this loss of mass would be recover- 
able in the form of energy, which, small as it is in the 
Helium nucleus, must be enormous in the world, as in all 
matter the nuclei are composed either of Hydrogen pro- 
tons or Helium protons (their compressed form) or both. 
Should this energy ever become economically available, the 
greatest potential source of energy in the universe will 
be opened up for the benefit of mankind. 

This would involve the artificial breaking up of matter, 
and this is the phenomenon which we actually witness in 
a natural spontaneous form in Radioactivity. In Radio- 
activity the nuclei of the heavier elements (Uranium, 
Thorium, and Radium) spontaneously break up and eject 
Helium at an invariably slow rate, which is regular 
enough to be a geological clock, now being used as a 
measure to calculate the age of the oldest rock-formations 
of the earth. 1 Thus the Periodic Table shows that the 
expulsion of three Helium atoms from Uranium will con- 
vert it through Thorium into Radium; the expulsion of 
one more Helium atom will convert Radium into an 
element called Radium Emanation; and so on until 
eight Helium atoms have been expelled, when Lead will be 
reached. If the process of expulsion could be continued, 
Mercury will next be reached, and next after that Gold, 
The alchemists were then not so far out when they guessed 

1 The age of these oldest formations, the Algonkian mountains oi 
Canada, has thus been calculated as approximately 1400 million years 
Thus on this basis we obtain the lowest limit for the age of the earth 


that Mercury could be transmuted into gold ! Unfortunately 
(or rather I should say fortunately as a citizen of the 
greatest gold-producing country) this spontaneous break- 
up of matter has not yet been observed to proceed beyond 
lead. And the artificial break-up of matter in the labora- 
tory has only just begun in the experiments of Sir Ernest 
Rutherford, who by bombarding Nitrogen gas with a 
particles from Radium C has succeeded in splitting the 
Nitrogen atom into Hydrogen atoms and a residual apparent 
combination of Helium nuclei which might result in Carbon 
according to the Periodic Table, but which is more likely to 
split up into Helium atoms. To what extent this artificial 
destruction of the elements is possible, and whether, if 
possible, it would be economically feasible, are questions for 
the future to answer. 

We have seen that the positive charges of the nucleus have 
to be balanced by the corresponding number of negative 
electrons grouped in their orbits round the nucleus. On the 
number and grouping of these planetary electrons the external 
physical and chemical properties of the atom will depend. 
If the orbits followed impose a strain on the equilibrium of 
the atom, a quantum adjustment to a different orbit will be 
made. If the number of electrons and their orbit distribu- 
tions produce complete equilibrium the atom will be very 
stable internally and inert or inactive external!} 7 ; it will 
belong to one of the inert group (Helium, Argon, Neon, 
Krypton), On either side of this inert group of elements in 
the Periodic Table we find elements whose atoms have one 
electron too many or too few ; in other words, they are not 
internally in equilibrium and have a negative or positive 
charge unsatisfied; they will therefore combine with any 
other element which has an opposite charge unsatisfied. At 
another remove from the inert elements in the Periodic Table 
we find elements with two negative or positive charges un- 
satisfied, which will again combine with another element 
which has two opposite charges unsatisfied. And so on to 
the elements which have three, four or five charges un- 
satisfied. In this way both chemical affinity and the valency 


(monovalency, divalency, etc.) of the elements are accounted 
for. In every case the external properties of the element 
are simply the expression of its internal structure and its 
condition of stable or unstable equilibrium in respect of its 
inner elements. 

Not only the combination of atoms into molecules, but the 
formation of the most complex compounds rests on this con- 
dition of unstable equilibrium due to unsatisfied negative or 
positive charges in the combining elements. The compound, 
instead of being a single system of the solar type, is a far more 
complex affair, and represents the case where suns with their 
attendant planets again revolve round a greater central sun, 
or where several solar systems are linked together externally 
and not by a common centre. In either case the distribution 
and equilibrium of the moving internal electric units deter- 
mine the structure of the substance as matter as well as its 
physical and chemical properties, while the movements of 
the substance as a whole and of its parts relatively to each 
other create the gravitational field or curved Space-Time 
system which forms the medium and the field of the 
substance. There is thus structure through and through, 
not only in matter or the energies which in their extreme 
concentration and velocity assume the massive form of 
matter, but also in the field which surrounds this matter. 

The gaseous, liquid and solid forms of matter are also the 
result of this inner condition of electrical stability in the 
atom and molecule. If the positive and negative charges are 
quite equal and properly distributed the result, as we have 
seen, is an inert element. And this element will also be a 
gas, as the inner satisfaction of the charges and balance of 
the system will make it inactive or inert externally. All 
gases are states of matter where the inner balance of equili- 
brium in the atoms and the molecules is such that there is no 
residual force to work externally; the atoms (in inert 
elements) and molecules (in others) therefore move freely 
and unhampered. If the inner balance of charges is not quite 
complete, there will be some external residual force as be- 
tween the molecules, and the liquid state will result. If this 


inner satisfaction is lessened still further, the resultant 
external strain among the molecules will increase, they will 
attract each other still more strongly and tend to closer 
aggregation, and thus the solid form will appear. The 
negative or positive electrical condition of the gas, liquid or 
solid will be an index of the still unsatisfied charges residing 
in the substance in that state. The free and unhampered 
movement of atoms in an inert gaseous element and of 
molecules in other gases makes the question of the particular 
forms of such elements or gases immaterial; they have as 
gases no particular form. In the case of liquids, however, 
the resultant residual forces of the atoms and molecules will, 
as is the case in electrical bodies, act mostly at the surface, 
where the resulting force between the molecules of the surface 
layer, or the surface tension, as it is called, will give a par- 
ticular form or shape to the liquid (as in a drop of water). 
The molecules inside a liquid appear to be stratified into layers 
loosely superimposed on each other. And in the case of 
solids the still larger residual force will result in arranging 
the molecules in a definite crystal structure on the pattern 
of a lattice, which is the special and specific form of solid 
chemical substances. Crystal structure is to solid com- 
pounds what the planetary structure is to the atom not only 
a specific ordering of inner units, but the index and source 
of all external properties and activities. One of the most 
interesting recent discoveries is that in crystals there is a unit 
body or minute structure consisting of two or more molecules 
which is of atomic or radicle character in that it always acts 
as a unit in the upbuilding of the crystal. 

Besides the gaseous, liquid, and solid phases of matter just 
discussed there is a fourth, to which in recent years an ever- 
increasing amount of attention has been and is being devoted. 
This is the colloid state, in which one substance is dispersed 
throughout another in very minute particles which are yet 
larger than molecules. Originally substances were divided 
into colloids and non-colloids ; but more recently it has been 
shown that non-colloids (like mineral salts) can under certain 
conditions be reduced to the colloid state. And now this 


division has been abandoned, and the colloid state is recog- 
nised as a fourth form of material aggregation applying to 
substances generally under certain conditions. Much of the 
earth and the air exists in the colloid state ; but the colloid 
state is specially important because it seems to be distinctive 
of all life-forms the protoplasm of all organic cells being 
organised in the colloid state. The protoplasm of the cells 
contains solid substances in most minute form dispersed 
throughout its jelly-like fluid, and this colloid state seems to 
link the inorganic with the organic elements in the cell. 

Owing to their minute size, particles in the colloid state 
expose the maximum surface area in comparison with their 
mass ; and the colloid state in consequence brings into action 
the play of surface energies more than any other phase of 
matter. In all forms of aggregation the surface molecules 
of matter are specially orientated ; the active sides of the 
molecules being turned inwards, and the outer surface thus 
consisting of the weak ends of these molecules. This 
orientation affects the surface tensions, chemical behaviour 
and energies of the surface molecules ; and as colloids expose 
a maximum of such surfaces they show properties which are 
of a distinctive character. Thus at these surfaces loose 
unstable combinations with other special substances are easily 
formed, and colloids appear in consequence to have a peculiar 
and almost mysterious selective action for other substances. 
The phenomenon is called " adsorption " ; the selected sub- 
stances being adsorbed at the colloid surfaces. Colloids are 
thus used in many industrial processes to separate other 
substances from each other, to remove impurities, and in 
other ways to act as a selective separator of mixed sub- 
stances. They also act as catalysts ; that is to say, at their 
surfaces chemical actions take place and combinations are 
effected which otherwise would not be brought about. 
The colloid surface is apparently a special field of force or 
influence in which other chemical or physical reactions besides 
selective adsorption are facilitated. The enzymes, for 
instance, in the protoplasm of the cell are complex chemical 
substances in very minute colloid form, with the surface 


molecules or radicles specially orientated so as to facilitate 
in a most marvellous way the chemical and physical pro- 
cesses which are necessary for the organic activities of life. 
But enzymes are very particular in their action, and each 
particular process has its own particular enzyme to bring it 
about. Thus enzymes transform the sugar or sugar-like con- 
tents of certain plants into alcohol ; but each species of plant 
has its own enzyme, which will only operate on the material 
of that species. Similarly chlorophyll is probably a complex 
chemical compound probably in colloidal dispersion in the 
protoplasm of leaf cells and other green cells, and its colloidal 
surfaces are " fields " in which the energy of sunlight can 
synthesise the carbon dioxide of the air into organic com- 
pounds which ultimately take the form of sugar, starch and 
cellulose. No laboratory has ever been able to make sun- 
light perform this wonder ; l but the colloidal surface 
" field " of chlorophyll can do it, and in that way provide 
for the sustenance of all organic life on this globe. 

The marvellous behaviour of matter at its surfaces in the 
colloid state, and especially its mysterious "selective power, 
has raised the hope that here the bridge may yet be found 
between the inorganic and the organic. Thus Dr. E. F. 
Armstrong says : " Enough has been said to show how the 
conception of an orientated active structure at the surface 
of a colloid aggregate might endow it with selective power of 
so fine a nature as almost to merit the description of intelli- 
gence; the further prosecution of research on these lines 
may well serve to bridge the gap between us and the full 
understanding of vital activity/ 1 2 

It has been usual to distinguish "physical from 
" chemical " combination. The New Physics has, however, 
made it clear that there are two types of chemical change, 
involving two types of chemical combination and structure. 
The one type, which prevails among the salts, acids, and 
bases of inorganic chemistry, is a much looser, less rigid 
combination or union than the other, which prevails among 

1 See, however, p. 70 below. 

1 Chemistry in trie Twentieth Century, p. 17. 


the carbon compounds of organic chemistry. Thus common 
salt, which is a combination of sodium and chlorine, is now 
understood to be a more or less loose aggregation of free 
positive sodium atoms or ions held in equilibrium by an 
equal number of free negative chlorine atoms or ions ; the 
equilibrium being fairly stable, without any actual union 
of the atoms such as was assumed by orthodox chemists. 
In organic compounds, however, the linkage of the constituent 
atoms is real, and the compound is not a system of free ions 
in equilibrium, but a real combination or fixed structure of 
the atoms concerned. Organic compounds thus display an 
advance in respect of chemical structure in substances. 
While in inorganic salts and similar substances the looser 
arrangement of the atoms or ions approximates to the type of 
" physical " combination, in organic substances, on the other 
hand, the chemical union is more thorough and intense, and 
leads to a closer structural character, linked together by 
common electrons. In this connection it is important to 
remember that organic compounds are the mechanisms of life : 
we may therefore say that as we approach life we witness 
a more intense element of structure in chemical compounds. 
Life may have arisen in at least it now uses as its 
mechanisms chemical substances of a subtler structure 
than that which characterises inorganic compounds. 

In connection with the explanation of the structure of the 
atom given above the question arises whether the structure 
of the atom is really as above indicated, or whether we have 
merely to do with a hypothesis to explain certain facts. 
The question is important, because it raises one instance of 
the general method of scientific explanation. Science deals 
with sensible phenomena and tries to co-ordinate them in 
accordance with known physical laws, and in doing so has 
often to interpret the sensible phenomena in a particular way 
in order to effect the necessary intelligible co-ordination. 
Thus, in the case of the atom, its existence as a fact is no 
longer disputed, but its structure on the model of a planetary 
system is no more than an inference from well-grounded 
sensible phenomena ; and we cannot, therefore, say for 


certain that the above is the actual structure of the atom. 
The sensible phenomena are quite different from the inferred 
structure, but they are quite definite, and have been most 
minutely measured or calculated. The electron and the 
nucleus have not been observed, but certain light effects, 
which they accurately express, have been observed, and from 
these effects their mass and other properties have been cal- 
culated. The sensible phenomena actually observed include 
light effects, which are explained on the hypothesis of their 
transmission in particular wave-lengths ; these explanations 
accord with the observed effects, and again form the basis 
of the supposed velocities, rotations and orbits of the electrons 
and nuclei, which are not directly observed but calculated 
with extraordinary minuteness and accuracy on the basis 
of the observed light effects. Similarly the light from the 
atom comes in definite observed quantities, which it has 
hitherto only been possible to interpret intelligently as sudden 
changes in the orbits of the rotating electrons. The observed 
phenomena are light effects of various definite qualities and 
quantities; the rest is theory or hypothesis, in which the 
elements of quality and quantity in the sensible phenomena 
are so minutely analysed and translated into elements of 
time and space as to result in the structure of the atom above 
given. And this hypothetical structure is then tested by all 
the phenomena which call for explanation, and it is only finally 
accepted when it affords a complete explanation of them all. 
The electrons, the nucleus, the revolutions of the electrons 
round the nucleus, the sudden leaps of the electrons from one 
orbit to the other : these are not observed realities or sensible 
phenomena, but they all rest on a basis of sensible light 
effects, which have been most meticulously determined and 
tested by reference to other observed phenomena. They are 
therefore not sensible realities but scientific realities. They 
are not directly observed, but deduced from observations. 
They are the reflection, so to say, of the sensible phenomena 
in the human mind with its particular conceptual equipment. 
And if they are not the actual forms of nature, they are so 
close to them and measure and represent them so com- 


pletely, that for us humans they are accepted as true and 
correct, that is, in experimental accord with the deliverances 
of our senses. Thus the apparently unrelated and unintelli- 
gible data of sense in a particular case are by hypothesis con- 
strued into the structure of the atom ; and the atoms with all 
their inner units and arrangements become the conceptual or 
scientific entities which correspond to, reproduce, and repre- 
sent the data of sense. In other words, the conceptual or 
scientific order arises on the basis of the sensible observed 
order, and as long as the two are in complete accord we accept 
them both together as the explanation of Nature. While thus 
according complete respect to both orders, we should always 
bear in mind that the sensible order is the governing factor to 
which the conceptual order has to conform. As long as it does 
so conform we accept it, not as sensible reality, but as an 
accurate measure and expression and completion of sensible 
reality. The hypothetical structure of the atom reproduces 
and expresses the observed facts ; without such structure the 
observed facts are unintelligible and inexplicable. We 
therefore accept the structure as a true and accurate 
explanation of the observed facts, even though it has not 
been directly observed as a structure. But the structure is 
really no more than a hypothesis, to be discarded as soon 
as it comes into conflict with new facts. 

I conclude this chapter with a few general reflections on 
the nature of matter which will serve to emphasise and 
interpret the results of the foregoing discussion. 

As indicated in the first chapter, the object of this work is 
to make a modest contribution towards the reform of the 
fundamental concepts of matter, life and mind, to assist in 
bridging the apparently impassable gaps between them 
and to interpret them in such a way as to present them as 
successive more or less continuous forms and phases of one 
great process, or as related progressive elements in one total 
coherent reality. In pursuance of that general object my aim 
in this chapter is to pave the way for a reform of the concept 
of matter, to break down the old concept of matter as 
something inert, passive, barren, dead, as something with 


absolute contours and nothing beyond, as something present- 
ing an impassable barrier to the kingdoms of life and mind 
beyond. This cannot be done by general philosophical 
reflections on the nature of matter as an object of thought, 
nor by launching a general invective against it, but only by a 
careful consideration of the concept of matter by the light 
of all the available physical knowledge. This must be my 
excuse for having referred to the Relativity Theory and the 
New Physics at some length. Certain general results emerge 
from our discussion which have an important bearing on the 
concept of matter. 

In the first place, the old concept of matter as dead, pas- 
sive, inert is clearly inconsistent with the recent develop- 
ments of physical science. The old contradictory notion of 
dead matter as the vehicle and carrier of life must disappear 
in the light of our new knowledge. The difference between 
matter and life is no longer measured by the distance between 
deadness or absolute passivity on the one hand, and activity 
on the other a distance so great as to constitute an impass- 
able gulf in thought. The difference between them is merely 
a difference in the character of their activities. So far from 
matter being pure inertia or passivity, it is in reality a mass 
of seething, palpitating energies and activities. Its very 
dead-weight simply means the push of inner activities. Its 
inertia, which is apparently its most distinctive quality and 
has been consecrated by Newton in his First Law, has received 
its death-blow at the hands of Einstein. From the new point 
of view the inertia of matter is simply the result of the move- 
ment of Nature's internal energies; its apparent passivity 
is merely the other side of its real activity. Matter itself 
is nothing but concentrated structural energy, energy stereo- 
typed into structure. As space contracts with velocity, so 
mass or the inertia of matter increases through that con- 
traction, and both the mass of matter and its quality of 
inertia or passiveness are therefore mere variable dependent 
aspects of Nature's high-speed energies. From this point 
of view matter is but a form of energy, concentrated by its 
exceeding velocity, and structured to appear massive or 


substantial. The very nature of the physical universe is 
activity or Action. The Law of the Quantum rules all. 

The repercussion of all this on the old concept of matter 
is deadly. Once the new point of view is thoroughly realised 
and assimilated into popular thought, the bugbear of matter 
will cease to trouble our peace. We shall no longer continue 
to stare at a hopeless irreconcilable contradiction in ex- 
perience. With the dissolution of the old traditional concept 
of matter the dead-weight of its utter passivity will dis- 
appear from men's minds, and one of the greatest partition 
walls in knowledge will fall down. The contacts with life 
may still be very difficult to establish. But at any rate the 
impassable gulf will have disappeared. With the contours 
of matter razed, its field will itself point the way for the 
transition to the kingdom of life beyond. For the fields of 
matter and life will overlap, intermingle, and interpenetrate 
each other, the fruitful contacts will be established, and the 
enriched and broadened concepts of matter and life will 
appear as what they are different phases in the evolution 
of an essential unity. The breakdown of the old concept of 
matter will have prepared the way for a great advance 
towards a new synthetic world-conception. 

In the second place, another advance of the New Physics 
has perhaps even greater significance in effecting a rapproche- 
ment between matter and life. I refer to the effect of Radio- 
activity in destroying the permanence of the natural elements, 
and in explaining the genesis of the elements from one 
another. Radioactivity has done a somewhat similar work 
for matter as Darwin's theory of Organic Descent did for 
life two generations ago. The fixity of the types of matter 
has followed the fixity of the types of life to the limbo of 
the obsolete. Of course there are marked differences in the 
operation of Radioactivity and Organic Descent. In one 
respect Radioactivity has not proved as powerful a factor 
as Organic Descent, for it holds out no promise of the creation 
of new species or elements beyond those already known. 
The Periodic Table does indeed indicate the vacant places 
for one or two more guests yet to arrive. But the number 


of elements is definitely and narrowly limited, and we have 
no reason to look forward to any large increase beyond those 
already known. In another important respect Radioactivity 
differs from Organic Descent. Organic Descent professes 
to show how new and future species arise through variation 
and selection from those already existing. Radioactivity 
operates in the opposite direction and indicates how by 
elimination of certain unit constituents from a complex 
element there may be established a regress to another 
simpler known element. In the time-series Organic Descent 
professes to move forward, while the process of Radioactivity 
appears to be backward, or to retrace evolutionary steps 
taken in the past. In still another respect Radioactivity 
appears to be even more effective than Organic Descent, 
for it exhibits before our eyes the process of the transmuta- 
tion of elements, while it is not yet definitely established 
that any natural species has yet been raised in the laboratory 
or will ever be raised in any period of time short of 
geological periods. In a final respect there is a striking 
similarity between the two factors in that they both appear 
to proceed by definite substantial increments or decrements 
in effecting transmutations. Radioactivity expels definite 
numbers of Helium nuclei as steps in the transmutation of 
elements. According to De Vries and others the process 
of advance from old to new species or varieties is by way of 
definite marked mutations, and not by the slow summation 
of minute discontinuous variations. And the present day 
Geneticists emphasise this similarity still more by identify- 
ing all organic variations with differences of chromosomes 
or genes in the nuclei of varying or mutating species. 

The above differences in the operation of the two factors 
of Radioactivity and Organic Descent arise partly no doubt 
from inherent differences between matter and life, but also 
partly from other possible differences in their circumstances 
of a less fundamental character. Thus life is a mere child on 
this globe and is yet in the heyday of its growth and increase. 
As yet it .recognises no limit or barrier in its first flush of 
youth. It spends with a lavish prodigality, which is in 


striking contrast to the frugality and conservatism of matter, 
for which the laws of Conservation and of Least Action have 
become the last word of wisdom and the unbroken rule of 
action. But then matter is old, old as the beginning, so old 
that its wrinkles are the fundamental curves of the Space- 
Time universe. Life has only just begun, since the yester- 
day of Eozoic times, in the upbuilding of its new forms 
and types, and in this task it can proceed for millions of 
years to come. Matter, on the contrary, had completed 
its active race probably more than a thousand million years 
before life began. It had built up slowly and laboriously 
in nebular and solar heat, and amid conditions beyond the 
possibility of our knowledge or imagination, the elements 
from their simplest to their most complex forms, and from 
these again substances and compounds in rising complexity 
until at last protoplasm was reached. And in the favouring 
bosom of protoplasm life could be nurtured from its simple 
chemical beginnings and launched on its great career, most 
of which is still before it. The work of matter is done ; in 
the great Space-Time curve it is now regressing from the 
more complex to the simpler types or elements, just as in 
organic Evolution we see a tendency for the most highly 
evolved and differentiated types to hark back for stability 
to simpler and stronger types. Radioactivity is doing to- 
day what Organic Descent (when it will indeed have become 
a descent) will do in the fullness of its time, when Life's spirit 
of adventure will have abated, and its aim will be safety and 
conservation rather than progress. 

When all allowance has been made for the differences in 
character and operation of Radioactivity and Organic 
Descent, there still remains a striking and unmistakable 
similarity between them. And between the Periodic Table 
of Chemistry on the one hand and Systematic Botany and 
Zoology on the other there remains something very much 
like a family resemblance. The concepts of orders, genera 
and species could be applied to both ; and in both cases there 
is a fluidity and plasticity of types which proves that, 
although they are in different kingdoms, yet they are in the 


same world of forms and geneses. One rises from a study of 
the Periodic Table and the New Physics with the feeling that 
matter can quite justifiably claim some distant relationship 
with life, and that life need not be quite ashamed of the 
rock whence she was hewn. 

The intimate character of structure which the material 
universe and its field disclose justifies another general 
observation as bearing on the concept of matter. We have 
already seen that, properly understood, the ideas of activity, 
plasticity and development apply to matter in a sense not 
entirely dissimilar to that in which they apply to life. I 
am going to make a more daring suggestion and to indicate 
that in another even more important respect matter approxi- 
mates to life. The structure of matter indicates that matter 
is also in a sense creative creative, that is to say, not of its 
own stuff, but of the forms, arrangements and patterns which 
constitute all its value in the physical sphere. It is creative 
in a sense analogous to that in which we call life or mind 
creative of values. Remember that according to the new 
point of view we have not to judge of matter from the out- 
side and as indifferent external spectators. We have to 
identify ourselves with the point of view of matter, so to 
speak. We have humbly to get into that closed cage; we 
have to take our post on that plane circular rotating disc. 1 
We have to interpret matter from the inside, from a point of 
view which is that of matter and not remote from and indiffer- 
ent to it. And from that intimate angle matter is seen to 
create its structures and patterns and values very much as 
life or mind does on another much higher plane. Hitherto 
the idea of creativeness has been confined to the organic 
and mental aspects of the universe. Those who have called 
the universe creative have implicitly referred to the activity 
of life and mind in creating new arrangements, meanings 
and values. It has not been suggested that, from another 
point of view, the physical universe is also creative. The 
principles of the conservation of matter and energy have 
effectively barred any such idea. Novelty, originativeness 

1 See pp. 30-31. 


and creativeness are quite inconsistent with the ordinary 
point of view and the popular ideas of matter as well as the 
more rigid mechanistic conceptions of science. Nobody, 
however, could have followed the above exposition of 
the structural character of matter without beginning to 
appreciate that in its evolution or creation of the forms, 
structures and types which characterise it from beginning 
to end, matter or the physical element in the universe is in 
a sense as truly creative as is organism or mind, The 
" values " of matter or the physical universe arise purely 
from these structures and forms. If the stuff of matter or 
energy or action were not definitely structural but diffuse 
throughout space, the entropy of the universe would be abso- 
lute, and its value for this cosmos from all points of view 
would be nil. The efficiency, utility and beauty, in short 
the values of matter, arise from the structures which are the 
outcome and the expression of its own inherent activities. 
In a very real sense the idea of value applies as truly 
and effectively in the domain of the physical as in that 
of the biological or the psychical. In both cases value is 
a quality of the forms and combinations which are brought 
about. Whether they are structures resulting from the 
activities of matter, or works of art or genius resulting 
from the activities of the mind, makes no real difference to 
the application of the ideas of creativeness and value in either 
case. Once we get rid of the notion of the world as consisting 
of dead matter, into which activity has been introduced from 
some external or alien source ; once we come to look upon 
matter not only as active, but as self-active, as active with its 
own activities, as indeed nothing else but Action, our whole 
conception of the physical order is revolutionised, and the 
great barriers between the physical and the organic begin to 
shrink and to shrivel. Organism has by its inner activities 
and the influences of the environment evolved its own forms 
and types, and this great life-process is still going on before 
our eyes. As I have already suggested, a similar evolution 
of material structures and elemental types may have gone 
on during the practically infinite period of past time. And 


it may even be that, although new elements will no more be 
evolved, derived structures are still being created under 
suitable conditions. It is interesting to note, for instance, 
that under novel laboratory conditions new substances are 
continually being synthetically produced. The whole 
romance of the Aniline dyes is a tribute to the still active 
" creativeness " of matter under the proper external con- 

These considerations, in so far as they have any force, 
must influence our concept of matter and tend towards reduc- 
ing the utter heterogeneity which marks our traditional 
concepts of matter and life. Of course a great difference 
remains between these two concepts, between the chemical 
compound on the one side and the organic cell on the other. 
It would be futile to attempt to argue away this difference. 
It is and remains great, but its character has been funda- 
mentally transformed. We may put the conclusion of our 
discussion in this way. In organic Evolution we come across 
mutations not absolute breaks with the past, but sudden 
long steps of advance on the past, where one species or 
variety leaps forward from and in advance of another. In 
the advance from matter to life there is a leap forward, not 
as between species, but as between kingdoms. And we may 
conclude by saying that, instead of the old impassable gulf 
between matter and life, between the chemical compound and 
the cell, we have found on closer scrutiny only a mutation 
the greatest mutation of all undoubtedly in the whole range 
of science, but essentially nothing more than a mutation. 
They present the faint lineaments of a family resemblance, 
and as science advances and our philosophy looks more 
deeply, the resemblance will become clearer and more unmis- 

Lastly, we have seen that matter in its colloidal state dis- 
closes properties and shows a behaviour which seem in some 
way to anticipate the processes and activities of life in its 
most primitive forms. In any case it begins to lay the basis 
of those physical and chemical reactions which are specially 
required for vital activities. It shows a certain power of 


selectiveness, which may be related to chemical affinity, but 
which seems to have a farther reach and to partake of the 
character of life. It begins to manufacture substances, such 
as chlorophyll and haemoglobin, which are the special 
mechanisms of life, and without which life as we know 
it could not be. These substances are the links which 
connect material structure with the life structures which 
are to follow in the course of Evolution. They are them- 
selves inorganic chemical substances, but they are the special 
instruments and the very basis of life, so to say. At 
their colloidal surfaces the energies of Nature are utilised 
to convert the inorganic material of Nature into the most 
complex organic substances required for the sustenance of 
life ; and the conversion is brought about by processes which, 
however simple and direct apparently, have hitherto defied 
all attempts at imitation in our most highly equipped labora- 
tories. We therefore see matter in this colloidal state 
reaching up to the very threshold of life, so to speak. A gap 
remains ; a great leap may have taken place across it. But 
beyond a doubt some forms of matter in their colloidal state 
are fairly close to life in their properties. And it may even 
be that life began with much more primitive forms an$ 
structures than any of which we have knowledge to-day. 
Thus the gap may not have been so wide nor the leap so 
great as would appear to us to-day. 



Summary. The cell is the second fundamental structure of the 
universe. It is possible that both before and after the origin of 
atoms and cells, as well as in between, other structures arose in the 
course of cosmic Evolution. If so, they have passed away, and we 
have now only these two permanent survivals which we can scrutinise 
for clues as to the basic character of the universe. 

In the study of animate nature Evolution or Organic Descent has 
till recently attracted most attention. But more recently the study 
of the structure and functions of the cell has come rapidly to the front 
and now probably forms the principal centre of interest in Biology. 
That all plants and animals consist of cells; that cells contain 
certain peculiar bodies called nuclei ; that all higher organisms arise 
from cell-fusions in which the nuclei play a prominent part all 
these facts have been discovered only in comparatively recent years ; 
and our knowledge of cells is therefore stil in its earliest stage. But 
Cytology is now, with much-improved methods and appliances, 
making rapid strides, and great discoveries are confidently looked 
forward to. 

Besides the nucleus the cell consists principally of a rapidly 
circulating jelly-like fluid, enclosed in a more or less well-marked wall 
or membrane of a permeable character; and the fluid contains 
numerous exceedingly complex chemical compounds in solution or in 
the colloid state. The structure of a cell is therefore most complex, 
and in fact comparatively little is yet definitely known about it. Its 
functions are even more mysterious, for they include practically all 
the activities which we see in developed organisms birth, growth, 
breathing, feeding, digestion, self-healing, reproduction and death. 
Its most distinctive function is metabolism, which means that it 
thoroughly alters and transforms all food materials before assimi- 
lating them; and all its apparently physical activities are of this 
transformative metabolic character instead of being simple mechan- 
ical operations. It appears to form complex chemical compounds, 
called enzymes, which in their colloid state enable these distinctive 
radical transformations to be effected. The apparently simple 
physical processes such as osmosis, etc. in the cell are really much 
more complicated, as they are effected through enzyme action, 



which is a physico-chemical mechanism distinctive of organisms. 
The laboratory attempts to repeat organic processes throw, therefore, 
little light on the exact nature of these processes. 

The origin of the cell is the origin of life and is still a profound 
mystery. However, the reproduction of cells seems to admit us to 
the inner secrets of life, and the cell-divisions which precede cell- 
fusions in reproduction have an extraordinary semblance to electrical 
situations, and seem somehow to connect the electrical structure of 
the atom with a possible electrical origin of the cell. It is now, 
however, impossible to follow up this clear semblance further, as the 
original electrical processes (if any) have probably become overlaid 
with other developments which have transformed them. 

Judging from the action of sunlight in the growth of plants it is 
not improbable that the cell of life arose when the sun was both 
warmer and richer in chemically active rays, and when the waters 
of the earth still contained many substances in solution and colloid 
dispersal. The adhesion of cells to each other would account for the 
origin and development of multi-cellular organisms; and the 
divisions of cells, which we now see in growth and reproduction, may 
have arisen originally from the breakdown of cells or groups which 
had become too complex to be stable. 

The reproduction of plants and animals, including the preparatory 
reduction division of the sexual cells, follows largely the same plan ; 
and it is therefore probable that this wonderful organic mechanism 
was evolved before the bifurcation of life into the plant and animal 
forms took place, and thus dates back to the early beginnings of life on 
this globe. The plant type arose from its dependence for food on 
air and earth, which was consistent with fixed positions; while 
animals, needing organic foods, required mobility, and in consequence 
developed a motor system, with a nervous system to work it, and 
ultimately a brain to co-ordinate and control it. 

The cell differs from the atom or molecule in its far greater com- 
plexity of structure and function, in the differentiation and special- 
isation of its parts and organs, and in the system of co-operation 
among all its parts which make them function for the whole. This 
co-operative system exists not only in the single cell but among the 
multitudinous cells of organisms. The system of organic regulation 
and co-ordination among an indefinitely large number of parts which 
makes all the parts function together for certain purposes is a great 
advance on the system of physical equilibrium in atoms and com- 
pounds, and is yet quite distinct from the control which, at a later 
stage of Evolution, Mind comes to exercise in animals and humans. 
Mind as we know it should therefore not be ascribed to the cell or the 
lower organisms ; but organic regulation seems on that lower level 
to be even more effective than Mind is at a later stage. 

This organic regulation and synthesis of functions is seen not only 


in all the ordinary functions of organisms, but more especially in 
their capacity for self-restoration in case of mutilation. In such 
phenomena there seems to be something more in actual operation than 
merely the parts ; the parts appear to play a common part and to 
carry out some common purpose or to act for the common well- 
being. They seem to respond to some central pressure. There seems 
to be a central regulator. We have seen a factor in matter making 
for structure ; we now see a factor in organism making for central 
regulation and co-ordination of all parts. We are evidently in the 
presence of some inner factor in Evolution which requires identifi- 
cation and description. That will be attempted in the next chapter. 

THE atom and the cell are the two fundamental structures 
in the universe that we at present know of the atom being 
the unit of the world of matter, the cell the unit of the world 
of life. In the last chapter we considered the structure of 
the atom and showed how the external properties of the 
atom were the expression and resultant of its internal 
energies and their structural grouping inside the atom. We 
saw the atom as a little complex world of its own, under- 
lying the outward properties as well as the field of that 
little world. We now pass on to consider the vastly more 
complicated little world of the cell and its field. In the 
science of life the two most significant conceptions are 
Evolution and the Cell, the one being the unit structure 
and the other the general character and trend of the 
activities or functions of life. Round the investigation and 
development of these two governing conceptions most of 
the progress and interest in biological science since the 
middle of the nineteenth century has centred; and the 
results hitherto obtained have been most important, and 
practically revolutionary for our entire world-conception. 
And the end is by no means in sight yet. In the first 
chapter we saw that there were still deep-seated misunder- 
standings of the nature of Evolution, and that a proper 
appreciation of Evolution would mean a recasting not only 
of biological concepts but also, and above all, of our concept 
of matter. Let us now turn to the cell as the other and 
no doubt the real governing factor of the situation of life, and 
see what light it throws on the nature and concept of life. 


A few introductory words in regard to the history of our 
knowledge of the cell may not be out of place here. It will 
be seen that accurate information even of what little we do 
know about the cell is of very recent date, and that we are 
only at the beginning of what may yet prove a great story. 

In the second half of the seventeenth century Robert 
Hooke observed with the crude microscope then in use that 
cork and other vegetable substances had a vesicular appear- 
ance, and he called the apparent cavities " cells/ 1 A few 
years later Grew and Malpighi independently observed in 
plant tissues these same cavities filled with fluid and sur- 
rounded with firm walls, as well as what appeared to them to 
be tubes likewise with walls and filled with fluid. Towards 
the end of the eighteenth century Treviranus showed that 
these tubes were cells placed in a row and elongated in the 
direction of the row and with the partitions between them 
lost. Then followed in 1831 Robert Brown's great discovery 
of the nucleus in the cell in plants, and in 1838 Schleiden's 
elucidation of the great part which the cell with its nucleus 
plays in the structure of plants, and shortly afterwards the 
application by Schwann of the new knowledge of the cell to 
the structure of animals also. Both Schleiden and Schwann 
attached great importance to the cell wall and looked upon* 
the cells as having crystallised out of some mother substance. 
The contents of the cells Schleiden called vaguely " vegetable 
slime " ; and it was not till about the middle of the nine- 
teenth century that the great German biologist von Mohl 
correctly explained the contents of both vegetable and 
animal cells as nucleated masses of what he called " proto- 
plasm," which was not a chemical crystallisation from other 
substances, but always came into being as the offspring or 
daughter cells from other pre-existing cells. Hence arose the 
formula : omnis cellula e cellula. This paved the way to the 
correct understanding of sexual fertilisation as the union of 
two cells, the discovery of cell divisions, and the part played 
by the nucleus with its chromosomes in these divisions, and of 
the origin of embryos through repeated cell-divisions. And 
finally a concentrated effort was made by many investigators 


in many countries to discover in cell-divisions and fusions, 
and especially in the part played by the nucleus, the physical 
mechanism of heredity. During this century the re-discovery 
of Mendelism by De Vries and others, and the rise of the new 
science of Genetics, have led to redoubled efforts to find the 
explanation of the many peculiar phenomena of heredity in 
an analysis of the parts played by the nucleus and the other 
elements in the protoplasm of the cell, and at present 
experimental Cytology is being vigorously prosecuted with 
numerous improved methods and appliances. 

Let us now consider the structure of the cell and the part 
it plays in organisms. I shall only summarise its most 
general and outstanding features, with a view to illustrating 
the considerations and speculations which will be advanced 
later. I am trying to find concepts for vital phenomena, 
which will be coherent not only with those phenomena but 
also with wider aspects of knowledge and reality, and a 
reference to the scientific facts and results is therefore 
necessary. The time is past when a philosophy of life could 
be evolved without a knowledge of or reference to the 
scientific facts and view-points. 

All plants and animals consist of cells, these cells being 
again usually composed of various chemical substances, some 
of which have a very complex constitution. The number of 
cells in an organism varies according to its size and com- 
plexity, some of the lowest, most primitive organisms being 
unicellular or composed of comparatively few cells, while at 
the other end the higher plants and animals may contain 
untold millions of cells. The human brain alone is estimated 
to have about 9000 million cells ! These cells again are of 
a most diverse character, the cells which build up the various 
parts and organs of the body being different from each other. 
Thus the cells of the nerves and the bones and the muscles 
and indeed of all parts of the animal organism differ markedly 
from each other, and the number of the different kinds of 
cells that go to the making up of a body may be indefinitely 
large. All these almost innumerable cells of all kinds and 
degrees of differentiation and complexity are arranged in a 


.table, orderly structure in the plant or animal body; and 
his structure is not stationary but like its constituent cells 
n continual movement and development. The structural 
>rder which we have seen characterising the inorganic 
dement or compound is even more characteristic of the 
vastly more complex organic body with its continuous 
nobility and transformations. 

A plant or an animal can be considered from the point of 
riew of its structure or its functions, that is to say, the 
ictivities performed by the structure as a whole or the parts 
>f which it is composed. Viewing it merely as a structure 
ve see the same orderly combination and arrangement of 
Darts as in the inorganic body, only the constituent parts 
md the structural arrangements are far more complex than 
n the inorganic body. In water, for instance, or any other 
:hemical compound, all molecules are more or less the same, 
md the body consists simply of a repetition of the funda- 
nental molecule, and the structures in which the molecules 
ire arranged are likewise of a repetitive character ; while in 
in organic body there may be an indefinite number and 
/ariety of cells, and the varieties of arrangements and 
structures according to which these cells are combined in the 
several parts and organs of the body may also be indefinite 
n number. 

But the difference between inorganic and organic bodies 
ies not only in their structures, but even more in their 
functions, especially the functions of the organic cells, to 
>vhich there is apparently nothing corresponding in the 
norganic world. About these cells we at present know 
:omparatively little, except that their functions and activities 
ire the basis of the functions and activities of the organisms 
>vhich they compose, all being co-ordinated into a single 
system of a new type called " life." In the march of Evolu- 
:ion from the inorganic to the organic the cell is the real 
nnovation, to which nothing corresponding in the inorganic 
las yet been discovered. To use a metaphor, the cell is the 
point where matter or energy aroused itself from its slumbers 
md became active from within, with activities and functions 


which reveal its inner character and nature, so to say. 
It is a new structure in which energy develops or acquires 
a new form of activity, becomes functional, becomes in 
some inexplicable way endowed with special characters of 
selectiveness and reproduction, of self-help and self-control, 
which constitute a unique departure in the universe. 

Let us summarise briefly some of the points that are known 
of the structure and the functions of the cell; and as the 
plant cell is simpler than the animal cell let us take that as the 
type. It consists of chemically very complex substances 
called in the aggregate protoplasm, which is the physico- 
chemical basis of all forms of life. Comparatively little is 
known of its composition or chemical structure. In the plant 
cell (less so in the animal cell) it secretes a containing wall 
or membrane for itself from which the cell derives its name. 
Inside the wall the protoplasm appears as a jelly-like fluid 
and consists principally of a small nucleus, which contains 
certain chromatin bodies of a rich protein character, and of a 
larger body of cytoplasm surrounding the nucleus and 
reticular in structure, that is to say, consisting of a network 
of spaces which contain various cell-saps and solutions and 
even minute particles of crystals and other inorganic bodies. 
The whole constitutes a colloidal system, as we saw in the 
last chapter. The cell walls are semi-permeable, admitting 
of the osmosis through it of certain substances and not of 
others, so that suitable food and other substances can be 
passed through the cell walls from one cell to another. There 
is a constant circulation and agitation of the cell fluid, which 
gives it the appearance of a stream, and is much more than 
the usual promiscuous Brownian movement in inorganic 
colloidal mixtures. The movement of protoplasm, whether 
it is Brownian or something different, has much more of the 
character of definite specific direction ; and this is probably 
only an expression of that selectiveness and directiveness 
which are inherent and universal characteristics of all life- 
forms. Although little is definitely known of the details of 
cell-structure, the functions it performs are so many-sided, 
delicate and complex that one may safely say that the cell 


must have an immensely complex organisation, and that the 
details of its constitution may never be fully known or even 
adequately pictured by the human mind. It represents, at 
the one end of the scale of existence, a minute detailed com- 
plexity which is in some sense comparable to the wonders 
of the astronomical universe at the other end. And all this 
intricate and complex little system is maintained in a state 
of active, moving equilibrium; it is dynamic through and 
through and incessantly active in all its details, and its 
almost innumerable activities are finely adjusted to each 
other and co-ordinated into a harmonious process, which not 
only maintains its balanced functioning for its individual 
life, but increases and improves it in the duration of innumer- 
able generations. Looking at this baffling mystery of active, 
continually changing and developing organisation, with its 
continuous delicate adjustments of innumerable moving 
parts into one co-ordinated forward movement, we find that 
ordinary physical categories of description fail us. We feel 
ourselves in the presence of an entirely new phenomenon, 
which we call life, and we may even feel tempted to go further 
and to say that the cell has not only life but also mind. To do 
so would, however, be going too far, as I shall explain later. 

To appreciate the position more fully let us look at some 
of the functions of the cell. It is very difficult to realise it, 
and yet it is the fact, that the little microscopic or ultra- 
microscopic cell probably does all or most that the plant or 
animal is known to do. It literally breathes or respires; 
it takes in, manipulates, digests and assimilates its food ; it 
reproduces its kind; it grows, decays and dies; it heals 
itself when sick and restores itself when a breakage takes 
place. It develops special means and mechanisms to assist 
it in carrying out these operations, and it co-ordinates and 
regulates all its manifold activities in a way which implies 
some wonderful central control of all these functions. Let 
us look at these operations with a little more detail. 

Unlike any other substance in nature, the protoplasm of 
the cell is vitally active and is in an incessant process of real 
creative change ; parts are continually being destroyed and 


replaced by new protoplasm which is continually being 
formed. No other substance has this power of making its 
own material, so to say. A crystal, for instance, builds itself 
up from its own material already existing in solution without 
any change being made in its constitution. The crystal 
serves merely as an attractive centre round which its 
material, already present in dissolved form, may be 
deposited in solid form. With protoplasm the process of 
growth or renewal is quite different. The material taken 
in is entirely altered and recombined into the substance of 
which the protoplasm is composed, and this material, so 
altered and transformed, is then by some yet unknown 
process taken up and assimilated into the protoplasm or 
living substance of the cell. This complete transformation 
and this mysterious assimilation of its material is one of 
the most unique functions of the cell, and its far-reaching 
significance will later on be more particularly stressed. 

The technical name for this complete transformation which 
the cell effects in the material it takes in is metabolism, and 
it may therefore be said that metabolism is the process which 
above everything distinguishes living from non-living matter. 
The cell is not a static or stationary organism ; it is for ever 
being built up by new material which it transforms into its 
substances, and it is for ever being broken down through 
the new cell substances which it forms and gives off in order 
to build up the various parts of the complete plant or to 
supply the energy necessary for its functioning. And the 
activity by which the material is taken in in one form, then 
transformed and assimilated into the substance of the cell, 
and then again given off as different cell substances for the 
building up of the various parts of the plant or the 
energy supply this activity, while apparently a series 
of chemical and physical processes, implies a co-ordinated 
system which is unlike anything seen in the purely 
physical or chemical domain. The physical and chemical 
procedure seems to be merely the mechanisms or instru- 
mentalities used by a deeper organic process, which 
means and does much more than the physical or chemical 


details which we can identify. Not only is there control and 
organisation of these details, but the physico-chemical 
agencies themselves are of a new type. For instance, 
oxygen and carbon dioxide appear to be taken in through the 
stomata of the leaves, but this is not merely a case of ordinary 
osmosis. Again, liquid materials in the form of dissolved 
salts or other inorganic substances are taken in through the 
roots, but this also is not a case of ordinary physical osmosis. 
Again, these liquids rise in the plant cells as if it were 
merely a case of surface tension or capillary action. But as a 
matter of fact these are all cases of metabolism in which 
subtle changes take place in the protoplasm, changes whose 
details are no doubt apparently all of a physico-chemical 
character, but whose distinctive character lies not in these 
details so much as in the new system of control in which they 
are organised and regulated. The theory which has been 
developed to account for the physico-chemical reactions 
which take place in all organic change and functioning is 
based on the assumption of very complex substances of the 
nature of ferments or enzymes being formed and acting in 
the protoplasm. It is, for instance, through the agency of 
the enzymes in the protoplasm that all the secretions are 
formed which build up the different parts of the plant. 
Thus also the transformation of the carbon dioxide in the 
green cells of the leaves into starch is not a chemical change 
of the ordinary type, but is effected in the presence of 
colloidal catalysts like chlorophyll and other enzymes, at 
whose surfaces sunlight can transform the carbon dioxide 
so as to form successively formaldehyde, dextrose, maltose, 
and finally soluble and insoluble starch. Mere physical 
and chemical reactions have been identified. But it is quite 
possible that there is much more, and that the organic 
process behind them is much more complicated and 
characteristic. Again, both respiration and metabolism 
are processes effected through enzyme action at colloid 
surfaces instead of being of the ordinary mechanical 
character. The enzymes are thus conceived as being 
catalytic agents existing in colloidal form in the cells and 


as having at their surfaces or in their " fields " the power 
of transforming other substances in the presence of the 
energy of sunlight or electricity. They do this according 
to the well-known chemical and physical laws, without 
themselves being thereby used up or transformed. The 
cell has the power to build up or secrete these complex 
enzyme compounds ; with the help of these, again, it manu- 
factures other complex substances necessary for the plant or 
animal life. It carries on many other functions in addition to 
these manufacturing processes. Throughout it seems to 
follow simple physical and chemical rules but on a new plan. 
All this will serve to emphasise how vastly complicated 
cell structures and activities must be. A large number of 
the most complicated processes are carried on, scarcely one 
of which the best-equipped laboratory in the world can 
perform, and all are carried on by a little cell which is 
microscopic or smaller in size ! 

During recent years resolute attempts have been made to 
repeat under artificial laboratory conditions what takes place 
in the living plants, and certain very interesting results 
have been obtained. Thus an attempt has been made by 
Professor Baly and others to imitate photo-synthesis in the 
laboratory. Light of a short wave-length from a mercury 
vapour lamp was made to act on water and carbon dioxide, 
and as a result formaldehyde was obtained and, as in the 
green leaf, oxygen was set free : CO 2 + H 2 O = CH 2 + O 2 . 
Light with a somewhat longer wave-length was made to 
turn this formaldehyde into simple sugars. 1 However inter- 
esting and valuable these and similar results are, it is probable 
if not certain that they have only a distant resemblance to 
what takes place in the organic process, where the physical 
factors of sunlight and electrical change acting in the field 
of colloid chlorophyll are quite different, and the chemical 
results are brought about by mainly different processes. 
From a scientific point of view, however, the laboratory work 
is of undoubted interest and importance, for the further it is 

1 It is claimed that sunlight has quite recently been successfully 
substituted for artificial light in these experiments. 


prosecuted and the greater the success in the synthetic 
formation of organic substances, the easier it will become 
to differentiate clearly and unmistakably between the 
organic and the mechanical laboratory processes. 

The origin of the cell is the origin of life, and we know 
nothing definite about it. But the question arises whether 
sufficient is not known about the cell and organic develop- 
ment to justify us in trying to form some general idea as to 
its possible origin. And here we find one set of phenomena 
which throws a special light on the nature and development 
of organisms and perhaps also on their origins. The 
phenomena of reproduction seem to hold the very secret of 
life and, moreover, bring us close to the secret of matter. 
And this secret common to both, jealously guarded and 
preserved throughout the whole range of terrestrial evolution, 
shows a continuity unique in science, which brings together 
some of the apparently most diverse facts which confront us 
in the world of life. How well the secret has been guarded 
and kept and shielded from all outside influences is 
evidenced by the extraordinary fact that though plant and 
animal life must have diverged near the beginning of things, 
and must through many millions of years have been 
moving further apart in the history of this globe, yet the 
methods of reproduction in plants and animals are still very 
much alike. The romance of the reproduction of a flowering 
plant, which is one of the most wonderful in the world, is 
practically the same, down to many details, as that of the 
reproduction of one of the higher animals. Going very far 
back, we find that it is very much the same in the simplest, 
most primitive alga as in the other members of the rising 
plant series the ferns, the cycads, the conifers and the 
flowering plants. When we go still further back into the 
past and come to the case of unicellular organisms, which 
reproduce themselves not by cell-fusions but by cell-division, 
we come to the situation, or something very close to the 
situation, which must have arisen when matter first organ- 
ised itself into life. For what do we see ? The cell when it 
proceeds to divide into two assumes the appearance of an 


electrical and polar system; its nuclear material arranges 
itself in parallel bodies or chromosomes like an electrical 
or electro-magnetic field ; its centrosome (if any) splits up, 
as if under some unbearable electrical strain, just as is 
the case in Radioactivity, and two polar bodies are formed 
from it at opposite sides of the nucleus, from which lines of 
force proceed throughout the now disintegrating nucleus and 
cell ; the nuclear bodies of the breaking-up cell divide them- 
selves equally between the two polar bodies, and aggregate 
and concentrate towards them until finally the separation 
between the two systems is complete and the material of 
the nucleus and cell has split into two. The division of the 
cell into two cells is complete. It is apparent from this 
summary statement how the cell in division approximates 
to the character of the atom of matter described in the last 
chapter. Were they not in the beginning both electrical 
systems with their nuclei, their fields and their cataclysmic 
behaviour ? In the cell the original hypothetical electrical 
character of the division has become overlaid with and 
obscured by other factors so that the electrical character is no 
longer recognisable, except in the general appearance and 
scheme of division. But originally it possibly was electrical, 
as it still is in appearance. Arguing back from the analogy 
of cell-division to the probable original rise of the cell 
from inorganic matter, we may imagine the building up 
of very complex organic or hydrocarbon compounds 
under favourable external conditions, in which the influence 
of sunlight and other forms of electrical energy played 
an important part, just as sunlight in the presence of 
chlorophyll still plays a foremost part in the production 
of new cells and organic substances in plant-life. We know 
that millions of years ago, when life arose, the sun was 
much hotter than it is to-day, and sunlight contained 
much more of the chemically active rays which facilitate 
organic changes. The peculiar electrical energy of the 
sun may therefore have played a decisive part in the 
origin of life. In other words, the part which electrical 
changes appear to play in the process of cell-division may be 


somewhat analogous to the part they probably played in the 
original rise of the cell. The basic electrical structure of 
matter would thus be paralleled by the more complex 
electrical origin of the cell. Reproduction of the most 
primitive forms takes place in a fluid medium, and all 
protoplasm still has a fluid jelly-like consistency. It is 
therefore probable that the most primitive forms of proto- 
plasm might have arisen under favourable conditions of 
sunlight and warmth when the warm water still contained 
much of the crust in solution or dispersed in small particles 
in colloidal form, and thus presented conditions favourable 
for the selective formation of complex substances, such as 
the predecessors of the present forms of protoplasm. Recent 
advances in bio-chemistry have led to the isolation and 
discovery in the animal body of very complex substances 
(such as glutathione) whose external surfaces absorb free 
Oxygen and whose interior undergoes the opposite change 
of setting free this Oxygen and building up higher 
organic structures. Thus a continual chemical process 
is set going which is at the same time an electrical 
current from without inwards, transmitting the electrical 
energy of sunlight contained in the Oxygen of the air to 
the interior cell substances, where the Oxygen is deprived 
of its energy and set free, and where with this energy 
complex compounds are built up which again store the 
energy required for the nutrition and other functions of the 
living organism. The chemical electrical system which 
forms the fundamental mechanism of life in the last resort 
simply uses the energy of sunlight, stored in the free Oxygen 
of the air, for building from it the body of life ; and there is 
thus the closest connection between sunlight and life- 
structures. In that connection, without a doubt, the origin 
of life must be sought. The cell structure having once been 
evolved from pre-cell structure, probably by way of prolonged 
trial and error or " natural selection " extending over long 
periods of time, its multiplication or reproduction would 
take place through the part that electrical tension would 
play. Thus the complex unstable electrical structure or 


organic substance, whose internal equilibrium would pass 
through various crises and changes in its " development/' 
would finally tend to break up and under certain conditions 
proceed to divide. This original haphazard division would 
gradually become stabilised and standardised, so to speak, 
until cell-division becomes the regular basis not only of all 
growth but also of all reproductive processes in both plant 
and animal. 

At first there could have been no essential difference 
between growth and reproduction of cells. By division 
one cell was formed from another, and might either remain 
in association with the old cell, as is the case in all multi- 
cellular organisms (growth), or it might separate from the old 
cell and develop on its own as an independent organism 
(reproduction) . This simple division still remains the process 
of growth in all organisms without distinction, and it remains 
the process of reproduction in all unicellular and the lowest 
forms of multicellular organisms. In less primitive, more 
developed multicellular organisms the process of repro- 
duction has, however, become more complex, and has altered 
to the union or fusion of two specialised cells or gametes to 
form a new cell ; and in such cases another scheme, involving 
a double set of divisions, has taken the place of the simple 
division. While one of these simply halves the total 
contents of the old cell as between the two new cells, the 
other or reduction division separates out the individual 
chromosome elements in the contents so that each of the two 
new cells has half of these elements. This halving is 
necessary to prevent the continual and cumulative doubling 
of cell elements in the repeated reproduction of the same type 
of organism, and to keep the chromosome contents of cells of 
similar organisms constant. The two cells or gametes, thus 
reduced in all respects to half the original cells, then unite 
to form the new cell, which has once more the full com- 
plement of chromosome elements. This reduction division 
in reproduction is common to both plants and animals above 
the most undeveloped types, and we therefore seem to have 
some justification for the most remarkable conclusion that 


this phase of reproduction must have developed before the 
separation of plant and animal forms took place. It forms 
also the basis for that alternation of generations which is 
one of the most remarkable of all the phenomena of life. 
Thus all organisms which are reproduced through cell fusion 
have a generation in which the cells have the single or haploid 
contents (after the reduction division) and another in which 
the cells have the double or diploid contents (before the re- 
duction division). In the higher forms of plants and animals 
the generation of the single-content cell, or the gametophyte 
generation as it is called, is reduced to a very subordinate role 
and a short life, as it covers the short period of the gametes or 
conjugating cells (the ripe sperm-cells and ova) in flowering 
plants and in the more developed animals. The generation of 
the double-contents cell, or the sporophyte generation as it is 
called, has become dominant and appears as the developed 
plant or animal which we see in nature to-day. But in some 
divisions of plants the gametophyte generation is still of 
some prominence. Thus the moss plant is the gametophyte 
generation, the sporophyte generation appearing as a sub- 
ordinate parasitic form. And in the ferns, where the sporo- 
phyte is the dominant form, the gametophyte appears as a 
distinct plant which is in some cases a perennial. And its 
relation to the fern was unknown until about the middle 
of the nineteenth century. 

This generation of the single-content or haploid cell, 
or the gametophyte in the developed plants and animals 
of to-day, is interesting because it is probably only 
another illustration of the well-known principle that 
ontogeny repeats phylogeny, that is to say, that the 
history of the individual organism recapitulates in its 
earlier or embryonic stages of development the various 
phases of development through which its types of ancestors 
have evolved in the past. Thus the gametophyte generation 
is a reminder of that earlier, simpler, more primitive phase in 
plant evolution when the more complex sporophyte genera- 
tion, which is dominant to-day, had not yet been evolved 
through cell fusion in reproduction. Another interesting 


deduction has also been made. The gametophyte repro- 
duces in a liquid medium, and in this and in other ways 
carries us back to the time when life on this globe was still 
more or less aquatic, and the later land forms of the sporo- 
phyte had not yet arisen. And it is even possible that the 
form of the present gametophyte may throw light on the 
particular descent of plant forms. Thus the gametophyte 
of the fern is a flat thallus-like plant which both in form 
and character reminds one of an alga. And it is quite 
possible that this form of the fern may give the clue of its 
origin from some alga-like progenitor in the far-distant past. 
May we not say that the prothallus of the fern appears to 
connect the alga and the fern, and thus to bridge widely 
separated epochs of the past in the evolution of plant forms ? 
I suggest the idea merely for further investigation. 

From speculations as to the origin of the cell we pass on 
to consider the differentiations which have taken place 
among cells generally, and the particular differentiation of 
cells which has led to the divergence between plant and 
animal forms. It is commonly thought that the animal 
forms are a later development and advance on the earlier 
plant forms. This idea is largely due to the fact that in the 
animal there has been the special development of the new 
factor of mind which, rapidly rising through the higher 
animals, has reached its highest level in the human 
race. But although animal forms may have developed 
farther and come to attain to much higher levels than the 
plant forms, the question of origins stands on a different 
footing. And the evidence points rather to a common 
origin and to the earliest cells of life having been common 
to both plants and animals. Thus the lowest forms of cell 
life are even now practically indistinguishable into plant 
and animal. And it is probable that this common phase, 
prior to differentiation into plant and animal forms, must 
have lasted a very long time and have been marked by 
considerable advances in the development of the common 
cells, especially in view of the probable fact, already noted, 
that sexual reproduction of a fairly advanced type had 


perhaps been reached before the bifurcation took place 
and plants and animals were launched on their separate 
careers. What advance in cell development had been 
reached before this bifurcation it is impossible to say, as 
only the very lowest unicellular organisms of a common 
character still survive, and the geological record has no 
evidence to give. Differentiation in cells must have com- 
menced as soon as the daughter cells began to adhere to 
the parent cell and multicellular organisms were formed. 
In the unicellular Pleurococcus, which is about the simplest 
plant form known, noticed as the green slime on the damp 
bark of trees or wooden posts, we see the beginnings of 
this process of cell aggregation, as daughter cells adhere to 
the parent cell until several divisions have taken place and 
only then separate into individual cells. The Pleurococcus 
cell is globular, but during this attachment the cells are 
flattened at the surfaces of contact. In the multicellular 
organisms a layer of cuticle covers the outer cell walls in 
contact with the air and retards the loss of water. Step by 
step other differentiations appear, and the plant body 
becomes more complex as we advance from alga to fern, 
and from fern to the higher seed-bearing plants. The 
differentiations into various organs, such as the root, stem, 
leaf and reproductive organs, are simply means towards the 
division of physiological labour. Thus in cells away from 
the light photo-synthesis is impossible, and they become 
dependent on the outer green cells ; similarly the roots under- 
ground become dependent for starch on the green cells and 
in return absorb dissolved salts for supply to the rest of the 
plant. The water requirements render necessary the fibro- 
vascular cell system, while the reproductive functions become 
confined to special organs. All this differentiation means 
more organisation and a more elaborate structure of the 
plant. In addition to this division of labour the struggle 
for existence tests the structure in other directions, and 
means more modification in response to the stress of the 
struggle and the stimulus of the environment generally. 
As a result the plant structure comes to be elaborated and 


adapted to the inner and external demands upon it, and to 
assume the forms which are known to us. 

Besides this general differentiation and organisation, 
there are special causes which have brought about the 
divergence of plant and animal forms. A consideration of 
these matters falls outside the scope of our task. Generally 
it may be said that plant-life has been determined and 
stereotyped through the two processes of photo-synthesis 
and osmosis, the second of which has enabled it to get water 
and mineral salts direct from the soil, and the first of which 
has enabled it by the help of chlorophyll to utilise the energy 
of sunlight for making sugars, starch and cellulose from the 
carbon dioxide of the air. The plant, being thus dependent 
for its food solely on the soil and the air, could afford to 
remain stationary and mostly fixed in the soil ; while animal 
forms, which are dependent on organic foods, have had to be 
mobile in order to look for and find the necessary plant or 
animal substances on which to live. The struggle for food 
has been a much harder one for animals, which have in 
consequence not only had to be mobile and develop a complex 
motor system, but also to evolve in the nervous system a 
special co-ordinating mechanism with which to work the 
motor system. This mechanism, again, has led to unique 
developments in the direction of sensitiveness and con- 
sciousness, which in the case of man have come to over- 
shadow all that has gone before. But mind is a later 
development, the discussion of which should not be raised in 
connection with the cell. The primitive cell of life is 
on the way to Mind, but Mind in any proper sense of 
the term is at this stage still far off, and those who 
ascribe Mind or even potential Mind to the cell open the 
door to the most serious confusions. The cell undoubtedly 
presents a great mystery. And there is a strong temptation 
to ascribe its surprising activities to an inner mentality or 
organic psychism. But even the most highly evolved human 
intelligence finds it difficult to understand all that goes on in 
the cell. If psychism is the key, we should have to ascribe 
to the cell so large a measure of mentality as to reduce the 


whole supposition of psychism to absurdity. The cell has 
not yet mind. Mind as we know it, or anything at all 
resembling it, is a much later development in the process of 
organic Evolution, as will be shown in Chapter IX. 

Enough has been said about the structure and the functions 
of the cell to give a rough general idea of what the cell is. 
Let us now pass on to consider the inter-relations of elements 
in the cell, and among cells in the same organism, and 
especially the aspect of co-ordination in and among cells. 
In the first place I ask : Is the cell and are cells in an organ- 
ism a co-operative system, in which the parts and their 
functions are so ordered and arranged that they co-operate 
for common purposes, and do not merely subserve the 
separate ends of the individual parts? 

There could be no doubt as to the answer. The whole 
meaning and significance of Metabolism is that the activities 
of the cell are not self-centred or self-regarding. The cell 
functions for other cells and for the plant as a whole. One 
element in the cell functions for other elements and for the 
whole cell organism. The secretions formed in one cell are 
intended to build up other cells or to serve the plant as a 
whole. The fibro- vascular cells carry liquid food from one 
part of the plant to the other parts. The carbohydrates 
formed in the green cells are transmitted and stored as food 
for all the other cells ; the woody substances secreted from 
them are meant to strengthen other cells and the plant as 
a whole against the forces of the environment ; the aroma 
and bloom which are secreted from them are meant to 
render attractive and adorn other parts of the plant with a 
view to the preservation of the plant species as a whole. 
Indeed, all the processes of Metabolism go to prove that 
the plant is one vast co-operative system, in which the 
individual cells in their continuous functions and labours 
make their contribution to the common cause, and work 
so that other cells or the plant itself or the species to which 
it belongs may live. The cell is a delicate problem not only 
of structure but also of inter-related functions, so co-adapted 
that a real whole is thereby constituted. The cell in its 


normal structure and functions is the very type of co- 
operative action. 

So far I believe we are still on firm ground in our description 
of cell activities, and the co-operative character of organic 
functioning will be generally admitted. Can we go further 
and characterise this co-operation more closely? What is 
the nature of this cell or organic co-operation ? Is it spon- 
taneous or controlled? And if controlled, is it controlled 
internally or externally? Let me repeat the question in 
another form. Are the cells and the organs which they form 
in the same plant or animal free and independent, so that the 
co-operation which we observe in their functioning is a mere 
accidental result of their individual uncontrolled reactions 
and behaviour ? Or is there some co-ordinating factor which 
influences the cells and their organs in some specific direction, 
and thus co-ordinates and unifies their functions and pro- 
duces the co-operation we observe ? And if the cells are not 
independent agents in the make-up of the organism but are 
under some form of unifying influence or control, is their 
apparent co-operation due to an external factor, like Natural 
Selection as commonly understood? Or is there some 
internal element of co-ordination, the influence of which is 
felt by the different cells, and in response to which they 
react, so that their functions proceed generally on the lines 
of a plan or pattern given by the nature of the particular 
organism? In either case there would be co-operation on 
the basis of co-ordination, but in the one case there would 
be an external, and in the other an internal, factor at work 
in this co-ordination. It will be seen that the issue here 
raised as between the cells inside the organism is analogous 
to that which Darwinism has raised as between separate 
organisms in their struggle for existence. The answer, so 
far as the struggle among organisms is concerned, will be 
discussed in Chapter VIII. And the results there reached 
will probably apply also to the case of the cell or the cells 
in an organism which is here raised. The subject is not 
free from controversy, and in this chapter I wish to avoid 
controversy and simply to describe the facts in the ordinary 


language of metaphor which I trust will not prove mis- 
leading. And looking at the facts in an unprejudiced 
way, and without a bias in favour of any particular 
theory, one cannot help being struck by the way in 
which the cells in an organism not only co-operate, but 
co-operate in a specific direction towards the fulfilment 
and maintenance of the type of the particular organism 
which they constitute. At this stage we have to steer clear 
of all ideas of plan, purpose or teleology in the organic 
procedure. But, even so, the impression is irresistible that 
cell activities are co-operative, that they are inherently or 
through selective development co-ordinated in a specific 
direction, and that the impress of the whole which forms the 
organism is clearly stamped on all the details. The case 
is utterly unlike that of physical forces, which are alike, 
which are repetitions of each other, and which can be added or 
subtracted or otherwise expressed arithmetically. The cells 
are different, they are differentiated in definite respects, 
and the totality of differentiations fit into a plan or scheme, 
the fulfilment of which constitutes the complete organism. 
There are no repetitions, there is uniqueness everywhere, 
and the various unique entities and their functions fit into 
each other more or less so as to produce an organic whole, 
unlike any other organism. And in some indefinable way this 
whole is not an artificial result of its parts ; it is itself an active 
factor like its parts, and it appears to be in definite relation 
with them, influenced by them and again influencing them, 
and through this continuous interaction of parts and whole 
maintaining the moving equilibrium of structure and 
functions which is the organism. 

Look, for instance, at the way in which organisms behave 
when some cells or organs, necessary for their maintenance, 
are removed or injured. It is well known that many plants 
and animals have the power of restitution in case of damage 
or mutilation. The newt forms a new leg in the place of the 
severed limb. The plant supplies the place of the severed 
branch with another. The regeneration may be effected 
from different organs and by different organs. Thus if the 


crystalline lens is removed from the eye of a Triton, the iris 
will regenerate a new lens, although the lens and the iris 
in this case have been evolved from quite different parts. 
Numerous similar curious facts of restoration could be 
mentioned. The broken whole in organic nature restores 
itself or is restored by the undamaged parts. The cells of 
the remaining parts set themselves the novel task of restoring 
the missing parts. The power to do this varies with various 
plants or animals, and varies also with the different parts in 
the same plant or animal. Generally one may say that the 
more highly differentiated and specialised an organism or a 
cell is, the smaller is its plasticity, or the power of the remain- 
ing cells to restore the whole in case of injury or mutilation. 
But the fact that the power exists in numerous cases is a 
proof that not only can the cells through reproduction build 
up the original organism according to its specific type, but 
also that when this type is damaged, the remaining cells or 
some of them can restore it, and recomplete the whole. The 
normal power of the cells to build up an organism in repro- 
duction or cmbryological development according to type is 
one thing, and it is marvellous enough even though one looks 
upon it as merely a case of inherited routine. But the 
abnormal power to do this in the very unusual case, so 
far removed from all idea of routine, where the type is 
accidentally broken down is something different, and shows 
how effective is the power of the organism as a whole, and how 
strong is the tendency towards the whole even in the in- 
dividual cells. In some subtle way the damage creates a 
need, and the need stimulates the remaining parts to perform 
the functions of the damaged parts or to restore them in whole 
or in part. The very nature of the cells is to function as parts 
of a whole, and when the whole is broken down an unusual 
extra task automatically arises for them to restore the breach, 
and their dormant powers are aroused to action. And this 
happens, so far as we can see, simply as a matter of interior 
economy and domestic regulation in the organism itself and 
without previous education for the new role. The inter- 
action between the organism and its cells is indeed most 


subtle and intimate ; both seem to be active factors in the 
maintenance of the whole and in the restoration of any parts 
that may be missing and necessary for the whole. So inti- 
mate is their interaction that it is almost impossible to say 
where the influence of the one ends and the other begins. 

The aspect of co-ordination or subordination of parts to 
the whole is also most significantly illustrated by the 
phenomena of reproduction which I have already referred to 
in another connection. Reproduction not only carries us 
back to the past and its riddles, but also forward to the 
future, and it is the reproductive system of organisms that 
we must scan most closely if we wish to understand this 
aspect of organic activities. For in reproduction the cell or 
the organism clearly appears to go beyond itself, its functions 
become transcendent, as far as it is itself concerned; its 
blind strivings and energies embrace objects and situa- 
tions beyond itself. In fact, in reproduction the cell or 
the organism bears clear testimony to the fact that it is not 
itself alone, and that it is part of a larger whole of life 
towards the fulfilment of which its most fundamental 
functions are directed. As an illustration of the co- 
ordinated inter-relations of parts and whole in organism, 
nothing can therefore be more significant and important 
than the facts of organic reproduction. Here more than 
anywhere else the importance of the whole as an operative 
factor appears, not merely the immediate whole or individual 
organism, but also the transcendent whole or the type 
which has to be reproduced and maintained at all costs. 
Throughout the entire range of organic nature one is 
impressed with the essential selflessness, the disregard of self, 
and the transcendence of self in the reproductive process, 
which harnesses the individual to the needs of the race, 
exhausts its reserves of strength, and often costs it its life. 
On that process is stamped, as on the very heart of Nature, 
the principle of sacrifice, of the subordination of the part to 
the whole, of the individual to the race or type. 

The preceding analysis will have enabled us to realise that 
the plant or the animal is a whole consisting of millions 


of parts in the form of cells of all kinds, while the cells again 
are smaller wholes of indefinite complexity and marvellous 
activities. All these parts are co-ordinated and arranged 
down to the most minute details, and function with the 
most complete collaboration in support of each other and 
the whole organism. The organism is indeed a little living 
world in which law and order reign, and in which every 
part collaborates with every other part, and subserves the 
common purposes of the whole, as a rule with the most perfect 
regularity. It is this perfect community of functions and 
unity of action in a system consisting of innumerable parts 
and the most complex structural arrangements that makes 
the organism such a striking type of a whole. We have 
seen structural order as the characteristic of inorganic matter ; 
we now see active co-operation and unity of action super- 
added as the characteristic of the organism. We admire the 
order and co-operation of a beehive or a community of ants ; 
in the organism we see a more perfect order and a more 
wonderful co-operation in a situation which is perhaps not 
much less complex than either. And just as the individual 
bee or ant lives its own life and is not lost in the joint venture 
of the hive or nest, so the individual cell lives its own life and 
specialises and perfects itself for its role in the organism 
which it helps to form and to serve without loss or sacrifice 
of its own identity. The organism embraces innumerable 
smaller organic units whose identity is not swallowed up 
in it, is expressed and not suppressed by it. The large 
organism does not only mean the union and co-operative 
harmony of its smaller units, but also as a rule the more 
perfect individuation and specialised development of these 
units in the harmony of the whole. The plant or animal 
body is a social community, but a community which allows 
a substantial development to its individual members. And 
its nature and structure are such that it can only perfect itself 
through the differentiation and development of the members 
which compose it. But while this is so, while (as we shall see 
more clearly in the sequel) individuation is fundamental 
in Nature, we have to recognise that intensive co-operation 


plays a no less important and fundamental part. An 
organism is fundamentally a society in which innumerable 
members co-operate in mutual help in a spirit of the most 
effective disinterested service and loyalty to each other. 
Co-operation and mutual help are written large on the face 
of Nature. Nay, more, if cell structure and function can 
teach us anything, they are imprinted deep on the nature 
of the universe, they are the very meaning and soul of 
Nature. We may travel far through the realms of Evolution, 
but nowhere shall we find a more perfect co-operation or a 
more beautiful illustration of mutual help of one part for 
another, and of all parts for the whole, as well as of the 
whole for all its parts, than in the little insignificant cell, 
which seems to hold the very secret of the universe. 
Anticipating the language of later developments, we may 
say that in the cell there is implicit an ideal of harmonious 
co-operation, of unselfish mutual service, of loyalty and 
duty of each to all, such as in our later more highly evolved 
human associations we can only aspire to and strive for. 
When there was achieved the marvellous and mysterious 
stable constellation of electrical units in the atom, a 
miracle was wrought which saved the world of matter from 
utter chaos and chance. But a far greater miracle was 
wrought when from the atomic and the molecular order there 
was evolved a still deeper and subtler order in the inner co- 
operative harmony of the cell. These two fundamental 
structures are the great abiding achievements in the course 
of Evolution, before the advent of Mind, and though many 
other experiments were probably made before and in between 
these successes, they proved unstable and were discarded 
and abandoned, and are now searched for in vain. We 
have to scrutinise these abiding peaks of achievement 
if we wish to understand the real nature of the Evolutionary 
process, and if we wish to form an idea of the nature 
of the ground in between these permanent structures 
which has been washed away in the endless lapse of time. 
And when we find the two to be not utterly different but 
expressions of a somewhat similar inner progressive tendency 


of Nature, and when we find later, on the mental and spiritual 
levels of development, still clearer expressions of a similar 
tendency, we shall be justified in concluding that we are face 
to face with something real and causal in the form of a 
natural operative factor of a fundamental and universal 
character. The impression becomes so strong that it 
is not so much a matter of speculation as a recognition of 
clear simple facts before us. The permanent structures 
in Nature have been and are still being patiently investi- 
gated for us by Science. As I said in the last chapter, they 
present more than a faint family resemblance and enable 
us to recognise the unity which underlies them all and to 
draw certain conclusions as to the origin of this unity. In 
their constitution, functions and development they point 
strongly in the direction of some inner natural factor in 
Evolution of which they are the expression. The evidence 
in favour of such a natural factor of a synthetic ordering 
character has been accumulating in this and the two pre- 
ceding chapters; it requires isolation, identification and 
exact formulation, if that were possible. And in the 
next chapter a preliminary attempt at such an identification 
and formulation will be made. 



Summary. The close approach to each other of the concepts of 
matter, life and mind, and their partial overflow of each other's 
domain, raises the further question whether back of them there is 
not a fundamental principle of which they are the progressive 
outcome. That is the central problem of this work. 

Two conceptions of genesis or development have prevailed. The 
one regards all reality as given in form and substance at the beginning, 
either actually or implicitly, and the subsequent history as merely 
the unfolding, explication, evolutio, of this implicit content. This 
view puts creation in the past and makes it predetermine the whole 
future ; all fresh initiative, novelty or creativeness is consequently 
banned from a universe so created or evolved. The other view 
posits a minimum of the given at the beginning, and makes the 
process of Evolution creative of reality. Evolution on this view is 
really creative and not merely explicative of what was given before ; 
it involves the creative rise not only of new forms or groupings, but 
even of new materials in the process of Evolution. This is the view 
of Evolution to-day commonly held, and it marks a revolution in 
thought. It releases the present and the future from the bondage of 
the past, and makes freedom an inherent character of the universe. 

Creative Evolution involves both general principles or tendencies 
and particular forms or structures ; philosophy studies the former, 
while science has more exclusively concentrated on the latter. Yet 
both are necessary to reality ; and any universal formula of Evolu- 
tion must include both the general activity or tendency and the 
particular structures, as one cannot be deduced from the other. 
Bergsonmade an attempt to deduce Evolution with all its multi- 
tudinous forms from homogeneous, pure, undifferentiated Duration. 
This was, however, not possible, and he had to call in the practical 
spatialising Intellect to infect and fertilise Duration in order to make 
hei productive ; he thus made the Intellect play a one-sided and, at the 
same time, excessive role in the shaping of the forms of the universe. 
It would be a better procedure to take some natural unit or sample 
section of Nature for our starting-point, and thus to keep as close 
to her and her concreteness as possible. The last two chapters give 
us a clue where to look for a beginning. Both matter and life consist 


of unit structures whose ordered grouping produces natural wholes 
which we call bodies or organisms. This character of " wholeness " 
meets us everywhere and points to something fundamental in the 
universe. Holism (from ti\os = whole) is the term here coined for 
this fundamental factor operative towards the creation of wholes in 
the universe. Its character is both general and specific or con- 
crete, and it satisfies our double requirement for a natural 
evolutionary starting-point. 

Wholes are not mere artificial constructions of thought; they 
actually exist; they point to something real in the universe, and 
Holism is a real operative factor, a vera causa. There is behind 
Evolution no mere vague creative impulse or Elan vital, but some- 
thing quite definite and specific in its operation, and thus pro- 
ductive of the real concrete character of cosmic Evolution. 

The idea of wholes and wholeness should therefore not be confined 
to the biological domain ; it covers both inorganic substances and 
mental structures as well as the highest manifestations of the human 
spirit. Taking a plant or an animal as a type of a whole, we notice 
the fundamental holistic characters as a unity of parts which is so close 
and intense as to be more than the sum of its parts ; which not only 
gives a particular conformation or structure to the parts, but so 
relates and determines them in their synthesis that their functions 
are altered ; the synthesis affects and determines the parts, so that 
they function towards the " whole " ; and the whole and the parts, 
therefore reciprocally influence and determine each other, and appear 
more or less to merge their individual characters : the whole is in 
the parts and the parts are in the whole, and this synthesis of whole 
and parts is reflected in the holistic character of the functions of the 
parts as well as of the whole. 

There is a progressive grading of this holistic synthesis in Nature, 
so that we pass from (a) mere physical mixtures, where the structure 
is almost negligible, and the parts largely preserve their separate 
characters and activities or functions, to (b) chemical compounds, 
where the structure is more synthetic and the activities and functions 
are strongly influenced by the new structure and can only with 
difficulty be traced to the individual parts; and, again, to 
(c) organisms, where a still more intense synthesis of elements has been 
effected, which impresses the parts or organs far more intimately with 
a unified character, and a system of regulation and co-ordination, and 
finally of central control of all the parts and organs arises ; and from 
organism, again, on to (d) Minds or psychical organs, where the Central 
Control acquires consciousness and freedom and a creative power 
of the most far-reaching character; and finally to (e) Personality, 
which is the highest, most evolved whole among the structures of the 
universe, and becomes a new orientative, originative centre of reality. 
All through this progressive series the character of wholeness 


deepens ; Holism is not only creative but self-creative, and its final 
structures are far more holistic than its initial structures. Natural 
wholes are always composed of parts ; in fact the whole is not some- 
thing additional to the parts, but is just the parts in their synthesis, 
which may be physico-chemical or organic or psychical or personal. 
As Holism is a process of creative synthesis, the resulting wholes are 
not static but dynamic, evolutionary, creative. Hence Evolution 
has an ever-deepening inward spiritual holistic character; and the 
wholes of Evolution and the evolutionary process itself can only be 
understood in reference to this fundamental character of wholeness. 
This is a universe of whole-making. The explanation of Nature can 
therefore not be purely mechanical ; and the mechanistic concept of 
Nature has its place and justification only in the wider setting of 
Holism. In its organic application, in particular, the " whole " will 
be found a much more useful term in science than " life/' and will 
render the prevailing mechanistic interpretation largely unnecessary. 
A natural whole has its " field," and the concept of fields will be 
found most important in this connection also. Just as a " thing " is 
really a synthesised ' ' event ' ' in the system of Relativity, so an organism 
is really a unified, synthesised section of history, which includes not 
only its present but much of its past and even some of its future. An 
organism can only be explained by reference to its past and its future 
as well as its present; the central structure is not sufficient and 
literally has not enough in it to go round in the way of explanation ; 
the conception of the field therefore becomes necessary and will be 
found fruitful in biology and psychology no less than in physics. 

IN this chapter we approach the central problem of our 
inquiry. In the preceding chapters we have seen the con- 
cept of matter coming closer to the concept of life ; we have 
seen the concept of life, in the cell, and in organism, and in 
Evolution generally, tending towards the concept of mind. 
We have seen these three fundamental concepts, at first 
apparently so utterly unlike and so far apart, approaching 
each other and overflowing each other in the real structures 
and evolution of the universe. The question now arises 
whether there is not something still more fundamental in the 
universe, something of which they are but the developing 
forms and phases, something out of which they crystallise 
at the various onward stages of its progress. And if there is 
this more fundamental principle, can it be formulated into 
a definite concept, and will it account for the specific concrete 


character of our universe? That is our problem, in the 
consideration of which a commencement will be made in this 

Throughout the history of human thought there have been 
two ultimate points of departure in the explanation of the 
universe, two contrasted mental attitudes or view-points 
from which the universe has been envisaged and accounted 
for. According to the one view everything is, in one 
way or another, given at the beginning; according to 
the other a minimum is assumed at the beginning, and 
the universe is a progressive creation or evolution from this 
minimum s tar ting-point. On the first view it makes no 
difference whether the original creation was complete in all 
details or whether merely its logical or metaphysical scheme 
was complete, while the contents were only implicitly 
given. In either case there can be nothing new in the 
course of the subsequent history of the world. If the 
original creation was complete and absolute, all subsequent 
events and changes can only be rearrangements, reshufflings 
of the original groupings : both the material elements and 
their principles or forms of arrangement are there as original 
data, and determine all subsequent events and arrangements. 
If, again, the metaphysical scheme or structure of the 
universe must be taken as given, the evolution of the universe 
is merely a logical development in compliance with this 
scheme ; or in other words, the logical development of the 
scheme will give us the material universe as a result. The 
development of Hegel's Idea is just such an attempt at a 
logical unfolding of the universe. In both cases the explana- 
tion of the universe is in the past, at the beginning : that 
beginning governs all and predetermines all. The past is the 
efficient cause of the future, and no new creation, nothing 
essentially new, can arise in the future. The full volume of 
reality was there at the beginning and continues to roll on, 
changing its forms and appearances by the way, but making 
no fresh addition to the original current. All real novelty 
and initiative, all real freedom of choice and development 
disappear from the universe. The process of the world 


becomes at most an explication, an unfolding of what was 
implicitly given, and not a creative evolution of new forms. 
This view-point has been dominant in Western science and 
philosophy from its early beginnings in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries until quite recently. In physical 
science it fits in naturally with the orthodox laws of 
conservation, which preclude either the creation or the 
destruction of energy, mass or momentum. And in proportion 
as mechanistic ideas have prevailed in science and philosophy, 
all change has come to mean merely mechanical rearrange- 
ments without any substantial addition to or subtraction 
from the sum total of reality. Those thinkers, again, who 
(like Leibniz) did not subscribe to the mechanistic formula 
were led by their theological standpoints and their pre- 
formation ideas to look upon reality as completed in 
the past, and to leave to the future the merely sub- 
ordinate role of unfolding, evolving, explicating what was 
virtually contained in that past. This, therefore, is the very 
limited sense in which the terms development or evolution as 
used by them must be understood. Where they believed in a 
dynamic progressive universe, they meant merely a universe 
which was progressively unfolding what was implicitly 
contained in the past. The view-point of Evolution as 
creative, of a real progressive creation still going forward 
in the universe instead of having been completed in the past, 
of the sum of reality not as constant but as progressively 
increasing in the course of evolution, is a new departure 
of our own time, and it is perhaps one of the most 
significant departures in the whole range of human thought. 
Not only has the old static view of reality with its fixed 
elements and species disappeared, the new dynamic view of 
Evolution does not merely negate the old static view, it has 
gone much further. Evolution is not merely a process of 
change, of regrouping of the old into new forms; it is 
creative, its new forms are not merely fashioned out of the old 
materials; it creates both new materials and new forms 
from the synthesis of the new with the old materials. The 
creativeness of matter is, as we saw, confined to the aspect 


of structure and to the refashioning of new structures out of 
the pre-existing material units : in that sense matter has 
only a limited though real creativeness. When we come to 
organisms we find a very much larger measure of creative- 
ness in Evolution. For, as will be shown in Chapter VIII, the 
new qualities or characters which give rise to new varieties or 
species are really new in the sense that they have not been 
there before and are not mere reshufflings of characters which 
were there before. New characters are created, and on the 
basis of them new varietal or specific forms of a stable kind 
arise. A still larger measure of creativeness applies to mind 
both in its intellectual and ethical aspects ; thought is creative 
in all its activities from the simplest sensation up to the most 
complex judgment; and the ethical or practical reason is 
creative of values, moral, spiritual and religious values, in 
the fullest sense. Hence arises the view of Evolution as 
creative of the new, as an epigenesis instead of an explication, 
as displaying novelty and initiative, as opening up new paths 
and rendering possible new choices in the forward march, 
as creating freedom for the future and in a very real sense 
breaking the bondage of the past and its fixed pre- 

The view-point of creative Evolution is to-day embraced 
by scientists and philosophers generally, and this consensus 
between them in a matter of cardinal importance con- 
stitutes a most promising situation for the future, and may 
lead to far more fruitful co-operation between science and 
philosophy than we have known for some hundreds of years. 
Let me point to one important direction in which this 
co-operation is called for. 

In their actual procedure philosophers have occupied 
themselves with general principles, while scientists, except 
in the domain of Mathematics pure and applied, mostly 
occupy themselves with the investigation of particular 
things, bodies, organisms and the like. Scientists have 
more and more buried themselves in details, exploring 
facts to their minutest details, and looking to ever greater 
specialisation to give the clues to the unsolved problems. 


More than ever before they are occupying themselves with 
the problems of structure, the structure of matter and the 
physical universe, the structure of cells and organisms as 
explaining the systems of life, the structure of the nervous 
system and the brain with a view to understanding the 
movement of Evolution in its higher reaches. While science 
is thus preoccupied with the details of structure, philosophy 
continues very much on the old lines of exploring general 
points of view, general principles and tendencies and con- 
cepts. Philosophy, in endeavouring to demarcate a province 
of her own and distinct from the special regions ruled by 
science, is more and more confining herself to the critical con- 
sideration of ultimate concepts and principles, and thus 
runs the risk of getting further away from science instead of 
drawing closer to it. The result of this divorce is lamentable 
in the extreme. For science, divorced from the view- 
points and principles which philosophy embraces, structure 
becomes merely mechanism. For philosophy, divorced from 
the actual structural facts which science studies, the 
general principles remain in the air, and never generate 
this specific concrete sensible world which is there to 
explain and understand. But the real world is neither a 
mere principle nor a mere structure, neither a dis- 
embodied soul nor a soulless mechanism. The creative 
Evolution which both scientist and philosopher embrace 
works as a general principle or tendency in and through 
particular concrete specific forms. Evolution is thus 
structure plus principle, interpenetrating each other, 
reacting on and vitalising each other. Individuation and 
universality are equally characteristic of Evolution. The 
universal realises itself, not in idle self -contemplation, not in 
isolation from the actual, but in and through individual 
bodies, in particular things and facts. The temple of the 
Spirit is the structure of matter ; the universal dwells in the 
concrete particular; neither is real nor true apart from 
the other. All this sounds like truisms and platitudes. 
But yet it is most important, for it means this, that 
the pursuit of the separate paths of science and philosophy 


will not bring us to our goal. Their paths must be made 
to converge. Concepts must be developed which will 
include the material and the view-points of both science 
and philosophy. The pathway of the real is neither abstract 
general principles nor the wilderness of details ; and if we 
wish to understand Evolution, we must develop concepts 
adequate to its actual process, concepts which will be repre- 
sentative of its real characters of concreteness and uni- 
versality. In other words, we must form a conceptual 
model which will as accurately as possible reproduce what 
actually goes on in the process of cosmic Evolution, our 
main concern being to make our explanation of Nature's 
process as true to actual observed facts as possible. Abstract 
principles alone cannot carry us to the understanding of the 
concrete procedure of Evolution. Structures by themselves, 
again, cannot generalise themselves into a universal process 
such as Evolution. Mere structure is not enough, because 
it misses the generic, the universal in reality. General 
principles or tendencies are not enough, because they are not 
concrete such as natural reality is. The two must be 
blended in a new concept. And it may be found that the 
new concept is actually not a blend of them, but the original 
unity from which they have been dissociated, and that the 
synthesis produces more than a mere concept, reveals in 
fact an operative causal principle of fundamental significance, 
To illustrate how philosophers operate with general 
principles or tendencies which refuse to produce particularity , 
and therefore fail to explain the concrete character of reality, 
let us glance for a moment at Bergson's system. Any othei 
would have served perhaps equally well, but Bergson has the 
great merit of being the most influential and brillianl 
exponent of the philosophy of Evolution in our time, and a 
reference to his work will therefore keep us close to our own 
subject matter. Bergson singles out the principle oi 
Duration as both ultimate and all-embracing and as thus 
capable of both generating and explaining reality. He 
reaches the concept of Duration by going back into the 
depths of subjective experience until he comes to the poinl 


where we feel ourselves most intimately within our own life. 
He divests this experience of all elements of change or 
differentiated features ; all subjective and objective items of 
experience are eliminated ; and there remains the bare flow 
or passage of the inner life. This is Duration ; this homo- 
geneous flow or passage is for him the creative principle in the 
universe. It underlies and generates our idea of time. But 
time is not pure Duration, it has become infected with the 
Intellect, and instead of being a continuous enduring process 
it has become a summation of units, or points, or small unit 
lengths of happening. In other words, time has become 
spatialised, analytical and arithmetical in character in 
proportion as it has become divorced from its original pure 
form as uniform flow or process or Duration. This creative 
Duration is not only the tap-root of time, but also of Evolu- 
tion, and is the source of all the multiplicity of forms and 
activities which we see in the universe. Bergson's Creative 
Evolution is an attempt to show how this fundamental 
principle, beginning as nothing but bare flow or passage, 
builds up the concrete universe within us and around us. 
To him belongs the signal merit of having elucidated the 
concept of Time more clearly than has been done before 
in philosophy. The theory of Evolution has made the 
aspect of time in the universe more important than ever 
before, and Bergson has rescued the concept of time from 
the confusions in which it had become entangled, not only 
in our empirical experience, but even in our scientific and 
philosophic ideas. But while freely conceding this great 
merit to Bergson I must confess that I fail to see how from 
pure Duration he has produced concrete reality. It simply 
cannot be done. From bare, undifferentiated, homogeneous 
unity you cannot reach out to multiplicity. You may call 
pure Duration creative, but it will create nothing until it is 
mixed with something very different from itself. And 
indeed Bergson has had to summon to his rescue another 
principle, which he has invested with all the characters of 
which he had so carefully deprived Duration. This is the 
Intellect. The Intellect is practical, differential, analytical, 


selective, purposive; it is at once the principle and the 
instrument of action ; it can analyse the material before it 
and choose what is useful for its purpose. It is spatial, it 
converts pure Duration into impure Time. Nor is Time its 
only offspring. From its marriage with pure Duration the 
Intellect has produced all the sensible forms in the universe. 
Bodies and things are simply our lines of action on matter. 
The practical Intellect selects what it wants for action and 
ignores or simply does not notice the rest. The sensible 
qualities it distinguishes are those which attract its attention 
by their practical usefulness or serviceableness for its pur- 
poses. The forms of bodies and things are therefore merely 
the result of this selective action on matter. 1 Structure 
is thus the creature of Intellect ; in fact in its forms the 
sensible universe is an intellect-made universe. He admits 
that the result is a hopelessly lop-sided affair, and he has to 
call in the assistance of Instinct and Intuition another 
twin of this marriage who partake more of the pure and 
gentle character of the maternal Duration to correct this 
lop-sidedness and to prevent reality and truth in the universe 
from being distorted beyond recognition. Intuition and 
instinct do indeed help to soften and tone down the hard 
lines drawn by the selective intellect. But even they do 
not avail to reproduce the continuous curve of Duration, 
but only an approximation to it. Such is a very summary 
statement of what seems to me the essential point in 
Bergsonism. For my present purpose I have only two 
criticisms to make. In the first place, as already indicated, 
the principle of pure Duration fails either to generate or 
to explain impure concrete reality. In the second place, 
there is far more in structure than the mere creation of the 
Intellect. Admitting the practical instrumental selective 
character of the Intellect, it would yet be a profound mistake 
to make it the sole cause of the forms and structures of 
sensible bodies or things. The Intellect is not creative in 
that fundamental sense. To make of Intellect what Kant 
made of Space and Time the framework or the forms 

1 Creative Evolution, p. 102. 


imposed ab extra on sensible reality by the activity of the mind 
would be a travesty of psychology and nature alike. In- 
tellect selects and orders, but not arbitrarily; it is itself merely 
an element in a greater, more universal order. Structure 
is the creature of experience, and experience is an interaction 
of the subjective and objective factors so intimate and un- 
analysable that it is impossible to say how much of the result 
is due to one factor and how much to the other. Structure 
is as much objective as subjective in its psychological origin. 
To put the forms, the structures, the order of Nature to the 
sole account of the Intellect or subjective factor in experience 
is most seriously misleading and is subjective Idealism in 
its most dangerous form. As we have seen in the pre- 
ceding chapters, structure or something in the nature of 
structure is inherent in the objective order of Nature, just 
as it is inherent in the orders of life and mind. 

Where Bergson seems to me to have gone wrong was in his 
impoverishment of the creative principle by reducing it to 
the bare empty form of Duration. In order after that false 
step to set his Creation going it was inevitable that another 
mistake should be made, and that a relatively subordinate 
factor,like the Intellect,shouldbeoverloaded with importance, 
Thus the Intellect, which is a sort of Machiavelli or Mephisto- 
pheles in the Bergsonian system, has a role assigned to it 
which is accentuated both unduly and in a one-sided manner. 
In order to understand Nature we have to proceed more 
modestly and in closer touch with our ordinary observation 
of her ways. 

Let me try to make my point clear by stating it in another 
way. I wish to get as near as possible to what one might 
call Nature's point of view in our explanation of her. To 
understand Nature we must take one of her own units, and 
not an abstract one of our own making. We must as it were 
take a small sample section of Nature which will include as 
one and indivisible both the element of activity or principle 
and the element of structure or concreteness in her. Our con- 
cept must correspond to such a section as our starting-point, 
and we must then proceed to apply it as a sort of standard 


with which to measure up the whole range of Evolution, 
In this way we shall try to explain Nature by reference to 
herself and her own standards, so to say, instead of by 
reference to intellectual abstractions of our own devising. 

It may be objected that in taking such a small section or 
unit of Nature as our starting-point I am implicitly assuming 
all that follows; that I am taking a small section of the 
evolved in order to explain Evolution ; l that I am therefore 
begging the question ; and that I shall be only finding here-* 
after what I have posited at the beginning. This, however, 
is not so. The criticism would have force if Evolution 
was merely explicative and not creative, and if my natural 
unit would by mere unfolding produce all the rest in the 
course of time. We have, however, seen that Evolution is 
creative. The assumption of an evolving unit is therefore 
by no means an assumption of the evolved results which 
follow. This is so because the evolution of an assumed unit 
would by no means unfold the implicit contents of that unit, 
but would proceed creatively, and would thus in the end 
far transcend the elementary unit which was the starting- 
point. Let us therefore proceed in the way I propose and try 
to reach a concept of Nature and her progress which will 
not be imposed on her from without, but which will keep as 
close as possible to her own natural evolving units, structures 
or standards, so far as we have experience of them. 

At this stage we return to the difficult question which was 
asked at the beginning of this chapter. We are trying to 
dig down to the very roots of reality and to raise an issue the 
solving of which will be no light task. The issue has indeed 
become inevitable as the result of the preceding chapters. 

In Chapters II and III we found the physical properties 
of matter were geometrically, that is in a sense mentally, 
determinable. We found also that matter, instead of the 
inertness, fixity and conservatism traditionally associated 
with it, was in reality plastic, mobile and transmutable in 
its types, and in a sense creative of its forms and values. 

1 Bergson's criticism of Herbert Spencer; see Creative Evolution, 
p. xiv. 


How have we to understand this? Is life or mind 
implicit in matter, and are the characters just referred to an 
appeal of the human mind to immanent mind imprisoned in 
matter? Has Science gone so far in her long search for 
truth that at last mind greets mind in the inner nature of 
things ? Have the rescuers reached the imprisoned in the 
long dark tunnel of Nature ? 

Again, in Chapter IV we found in the organism and even 
in the cell a perfectly adjusted system of co-operation so 
closely approaching the social in character, a complicated 
system of controls so closely approaching the mental in 
character as once more to raise the question of mind on a 
really extensive scale implicit in Nature. As we find life 
on the one hand encroaching on the domain of matter, so 
again we find mind encroaching far beyond its own proper 
domain on that usually assigned to life. Is life implicit 
mind, mind asleep and almost waking ? Is life latent in 
matter, and is mind latent in life ? 

What is the answer to these questions, and how have we 
to conceive matter, life and mind to explain this overflow 
into each other's domain ? Is it possible to have a concept 
which will embrace all these facts as phases of its own 
creative development ? Is it possible to develop the concept 
of a principle which is successively physical, biological and 
mental in its evolving phases, in other words, of which 
matter, life and mind are the growing manifestations ? Is it 
possible to have a fundamental concept of Evolution, of 
which matter, life and mind would be the successive stages ? 

This is the sort of question which naturally arises as a 
result of the point which we have reached in our discussion. 
And the answer which one ventures to bring forward must 
not only have reference to fundamental principles, but also 
to that requisite of concrete character which we have just 
now seen to be essential in any solution which professes to 
be true to nature. 

The last two chapters have not only raised the question 
but prepared the way for the answer which will be given in 
the sequel. We there saw that reality is not diffuse and 


dispersive; on the contrary, it is aggregative, ordered, 
structural. Both matter and life consist, in the atom and the 
cell, of unit structures whose ordered grouping produces the 
natural wholes which we call bodies or organisms. This 
character or feature of " wholeness " which we found in the 
case of matter and life has a far more general application 
and points to something fundamental in the universe, funda- 
mental in the sense that it is practically universal, that it 
is a real operative factor, and that its shaping influence is 
felt ever more deeply and widely with the advance of 
Evolution. Holism is the term here coined (from 6'Xo<? = 
whole) to designate this whole-ward tendency in Nature, 
this fundamental factor operative towards the making or 
creation of wholes in the universe. Let us first try to get 
some general idea of what Holism is and what " wholes " 
are ; thereafter I shall try to define these terms more closely, 
We are all familiar in the domain of life with what is here 
called wholes. Every organism, every plant or animal, is a 
whole, with a certain internal organisation and a measure 
of self -direction, and an individual specific character of its 
own. This is true of the lowest micro-organism no less than 
of the most highly developed and complex human per- 
sonality. What is not generally recognised is that the 
conception of wholes covers a much wider field than that of 
life, that its beginnings are traceable already in the inorganic 
order of Nature, and that beyond the ordinary domain 
of biology it applies in a sense to human associations 
like the State, and to the creations of the human spirit in 
all its greatest and most significant activities. Not only are 
plants and animals wholes, but in a certain limited sense the 
natural collocations of matter in the universe are wholes; 
atoms, molecules and chemical compounds are limited 
wholes; while in another closely related sense human 
characters, works of art and the great ideals of the higher 
life are or partake of the character of wholes. In popular 
use the word " whole " is often made to cover some of these 
higher creations. A poem or a picture, for instance, is 
praised because it is a " whole," because it is not a mere 


artificial construction, but an organic whole, in which all the 
parts appear in a subtle indefinable way to subserve and con- 
tribute to and carry out the main purpose or idea. Artistic 
creations are, in fact, mainly judged and appraised by the 
extent to which they realise the character of wholes. But 
there is much more in the term " whole " than is covered 
by its popular use. In the view here presented " wholes " 
are basic to the character of the universe, and Holism, as 
the operative factor in the evolution of wholes, is the 
ultimate principle of the universe. 

The creation of wholes, and ever more highly organised 
wholes, and of wholeness generally as characteristic of 
existence, is an inherent character of the universe. 
There is not a mere vague indefinite creative energy 
or tendency at work in the world. This energy or 
tendency has specific characters, the most fundamental 
of which is whole-making. And the progressive develop- 
ment of the resulting wholes at all stages from the most 
inchoate, imperfect, inorganic wholes to the most highly 
developed and organised is what we call Evolution. The 
whole-making, holistic tendency, or Holism, operating in and 
through particular wholes, is seen at all stages of existence, 
and is by no means confined to the biological domain to 
which science has hitherto restricted the concept of wholes. 
With its roots in the inorganic, this universal tendency 
attains clear expression in the organic biological world, and 
reaches its highest expressions and results on the mental and 
spiritual planes of existence. Wholes of various grades 
are the real units of Nature. Wholeness is the most 
characteristic expression of the nature of the universe in 
its forward movement in time. It marks the line of evolu- 
tionary progress. And Holism is the inner driving force 
behind that progress. 

It is evident that if this view is correct, very important 
results must follow for our conceptions of knowledge and life. 
Wholes are not mere artificial constructions of thought, 
they point to something real in the universe; and Holism 
as the creative principle in them is a real vera causa. 


It is the motive force behind Evolution. We thus have 
behind Evolution not a mere vague and indefinable creative 
impulse or ilan vital, the bare idea of passage or duration 
without any quality or character other than that of uniform 
flow, and to which no value or character could be attached, 
but something quite definite. Holism is a specific tendency, 
with a definite character, and creative of all characters in 
the universe, and thus fruitful of results and explanations 
in regard to the entire course of cosmic development. 

It is possible that some may think I have pressed the claims 

of Holism and the whole too far; that they are not real 

operative factors, but only useful methodological concepts 

or categories of research and explanation. There is no 

doubt that the whole is a useful and powerful concept under 

which to range the phenomena of life especially. But to 

my mind there is clearly something more in the idea. The 

whole as a real character is writ large on the face of Nature. 

It is dominant in biology; it is everywhere noticeable in 

the higher mental and spiritual developments ; and science, 

if it had not been so largely analytical and mechanical, . 

would long ago have seen and read it in inorganic 

nature also. The whole as an operative factor requires 

careful exploration. That there are wholes in Nature 

seems to me incontestable. That they cover a very 

much wider field than is generally thought and are of 

fundamental significance is the view here presented. But the 

idea of the whole is one of the neglected matters of science 

and to a large extent of philosophy also. It is curious that, 

while the general view-point of philosophy is necessarily 

largely holistic, it has never made real use of the idea of the 

whole. The idea runs indeed as a thread all through 

philosophy, but mostly in a vague intangible way. The 

only definite application of the idea has been made by the 

Absolutists, who have applied the expression of " the whole " 

to the all of existence, to the cosmic whole, to the tout 

ensemble of the universe, considered as a unity or a being. 

This particular use of the idea does not interest us at 

this stage of our inquiry. The great whole may be the 


ultimate terminus, but it is not the line which we are follow- 
ing. It is the small natural centres of wholeness which we 
are going to study, and the principle of which they are the 
expression. And I should have thought that the matter 
would be of profound interest to philosophers and scientists 
alike. But no real use has been made of this great concept 
even by philosophers, while by scientists it has been steadily 
neglected or ignored under the iron rule of the mechanistic 
regime. And yet the stone rejected by the builders may 
become the corner-stone of the building. 

Let us now proceed to consider the idea of a whole more 
closely ; and let us once more begin with natural biological 
wholes, such as plants or animals. An organism, like a 
plant or animal, is a natural whole. It is self-acting and 
self-moving. Its principle of movement or action is not 
external to itself but internal. It is not actuated or moved 
by some external principle or force, like a machine or an 
artificial construction. The source of its activity is internal 
and of a piece with itself, is indeed itself. It consists of 
parts, but its parts are not merely put together. Their 
togetherness is not mechanical, but rests on a different basis. 
The organism consists of parts, but it is more than the sum 
of its parts, and if these parts are taken to pieces the organism 
is destroyed and cannot be reconstituted by again putting 
together the severed parts. These parts are in active 
relations to each other, which vary with the parts and the 
organisms ; but in no case is there anything inactive or inert 
about the relations of these parts to each other or to the whole 
organism. The organism further has the power of main- 
taining itself by taking in other parts, such as food, but 
again, as we saw in the last chapter, it does so not by mere 
mechanical addition, but by a complete transformation, 
assimilation and appropriation into its own peculiar system of 
the material so taken in. Moreover, the organism is creative 
in that it is capable, under certain conditions, of renewing 
itself and of reproducing itself in closely similar wholes. 

This rough summary is sufficient to indicate the main 
general characters of biological wholes. When we reach 


the more advanced levels of development in the higher 
animals and man, we are confronted with additional 
characters of a psychological nature, such as intelligence, 
will, consciousness, central control and direction of a more 
or less voluntary and deliberate kind. For our present 
purpose of a preliminary survey in this chapter we need not 
consider these characters more closely. But it is necessary 
that we should form a clearer conception of the differences 
which distinguish a whole in the above sense from something 
which is not a whole. 

In the first place, I wish to emphasise that a whole accord- 
ing to the view here presented is not simple, but composite 
and consists of parts. Natural wholes such as organisms 
are not simple but complex or composite, consisting of many 
parts in active relation and interaction of one kind or 
another, and the parts may be themselves lesser wholes, 
such as cells in an organism. Wholes are composites 
and not simples. The idea of a whole as a simple unique 
individual entity is a metaphysical view which we have 
to guard against. Philosophy has elaborated the concept 
of a unique whole which is really an absolute, indestruc- 
tible and unchangeable. Plato in the Phcedo, for instance, 
presented the human soul as such a whole, and from its 
indivisibility derived an argument in favour of its im- 
mortality. What is simple, indivisible and ultimate must 
necessarily also be indestructible. Natural wholes accord- 
ing to my view, however, are not such simple indivisible 
entities, which are really philosophic abstractions. 

Then, again, the philosophic conception leaves no room 
for change, movement or development of a whole. The 
whole or absolute of philosophy is necessarily static. The 
simple unique ultimate whole cannot change or develop. 
It is what it is unchangeably. It negatives the idea of 
Evolution which is essential to the conception of wholes as 
here presented. The view of the universe as a whole or an 
absolute in the philosophic sense leaves no room for progress 
or development, and is in conflict with all the teachings of ex- 
perience and all the most significant results of science. The 


parts indeed (if any) may move and change, their relations 
inter se may show a flux to which the name of development 
may be given. But it will not be real creative development. 
The absolute whole of philosophy is immutable, withdrawn 
in itself, and unlike anything of which we have experience 
in this world. The idea of Evolution as creative is the very 
antithesis of this static absoluteness. And this idea must be 
decisive for us. Anything which militates against the idea 
of the universe as progressive and creative must be dis- 
carded by us. The creative whole or Holism must not be 
confused with the philosophic whole or absolute. 

Having warned against a philosophical misconception, 
let me proceed to guard against a still more dangerous 
scientific misconception. The mechanical view of the 
universe which has been, and to a large extent still is, 
dominant in science is in one degree or another at variance 
with the conception here brought forward. 

The whole is not a mere mechanical system, that is, 
a system of parts externally related to each other. It 
consists indeed of parts, but it is more than the sum 
of its parts, which a purely mechanical system necessarily 
is. The essence of a mechanical system is pure external- 
ity or the absence of all inwardness, of all inner tendencies 
and relations and activities of the system or its parts. 
All action in a mechanical system is external, being 
either the external action of the mechanical body on 
some other body, or the external action of the latter on 
the former. And similarly when the parts of the body 
or system are considered, the only action of which they are 
capable is their external action on each other or on the body 
generally. There is no inwardness of action or function 
either on the part of the body or its parts. Such is a 
mechanical body, and only such bodies have been assumed 
to exist on the mechanistic hypothesis. A whole, which is 
more than the sum of its parts, has something internal, 
some inwardness of structure and function, some specific 
inner relations, some internality of character or nature, 
which constitutes that more. And it is for us in this 


inquiry to try to elucidate what that more is. The point to 
grasp at this stage is that, while the mechanical theory 
assumes only external action as alone capable of measure- 
ment and mathematical treatment, and banishes all inner 
action, relation or function, the theory of the whole, on the 
contrary, is based on the assumption that in addition to 
external action between bodies, there is also an additional 
interior element or action of bodies which are wholes, and 
that this element or action is of a specific ascertainable 

Wholes are therefore composites which have an internal 
structure, function or character which clearly differentiates 
them from mere mechanical additions or aggregates or 
constructions, such as science assumes on the mechanical 
hypothesis. And this internal element which transforms a 
mere mechanical addition or sum of parts into a whole 
shows a progressive development in Nature. Wholes are 
dynamic, organic, evolutionary, creative. The character 
of creativeness should (if true) be enough to negative the 
purely mechanical conception of the universe. 

It is very important to recognise that the whole is not 
something additional to the parts : it is the parts in a definite 
structural arrangement and with mutual activities that 
constitute the whole. 1 The structure and the activities 
differ in character according to the stage of development of 
the whole; but the whole is just this specific structure of 
parts with their appropriate activities and functions. Thus 
water as a chemical compound is, as we have seen, a whole 
in a limited sense, an incipient whole, differing qualitatively 
from its uncompounded elements Hydrogen and Oxygen 
in a mere state of mixture; it is a new specific structure 
with new physical and chemical properties. The whole as a 
biological organism is an immensely more complex structure 

1 A friendly critic, Mgr. F. C. Kolbe, in a valuable review of this 
work in the Southern Cross, has pointed out the striking similarity 
between this doctrine of Holism and the Aristotelianism of St. 
Thomas Aquinas, from whom he quotes the following sentence : 
" Forma substantial totius non superadditur partibus, sed est 
totum complectans materiam et formam cum prsecisione aliorum." 


with vastly more complex activities and functions than a 
mere chemical compound. But it must not be conceived 
as something over and above its parts in their structural 
synthesis, including the unique activities and functions 
which accompany this synthesis. It is the very essence of 
the concept of the whole that the parts are together in a 
unique specific combination, in a specific internal related- 
ness, in a creative synthesis which differentiates it from 
all other forms of combination or togetherness. The 
combination of the elements into this structure is in a 
sense creative, that is to say, creative of new structure 
and new properties and functions. These properties and 
functions have themselves a creative or holistic char- 
acter, as we shall see in the sequel. At the start the 
fact of structure is all-important in wholes, but as we ascend 
the scale of wholes, we see structure becoming secondary to 
function, we see function becoming the dominant feature of 
wholes, we see it as a correlation of all the activities of 
the structure and effecting new syntheses which are more 
and more of a creative character. The parts in a whole are 
also affected by the structure and are different and behave 
differently from what they would have done apart from 
such a whole. It is the very essence of a whole that while it 
is formed of its parts it in turn influences the parts and affects 
their relations and functions. This reciprocal influence 
constitutes the internality or interior character of a whole. 

There is a creative activity, progress and development of 
wholes, and the successive phases of this creative Evolution 
are marked by the rise of ever more complex and significant 
wholes. Thus there arises a progressive scale of wholes, 
extending from the material bodies of inorganic nature 
through the plant and animal kingdoms to man and the great 
ideal and artistic creations of the spiritual world. However 
much the wholes may increase in complexity and fruitful 
significance as we go upward, the fundamental activity 
which produces these results retains its specific holistic 
character all through. At first, according to our present 
knowledge, it appears only as a definite material structure of 


energy units, as a specific synthesis or arrangement of 
material parts, for instance, in a chemical compound or a 
crystal or a colloid. We have already seen how this structure 
approaches in several respects the more holistic characters 
of life, and it may well be that the future progress of science 
will add greatly to our evidence on this point. But even as 
it is now known, the specific structure and character of the 
chemical compound make it a sort of whole, quite distinct 
from mere physical or mechanical mixtures. As we proceed 
in the rise of Nature we see in plants how this specific struc- 
ture, this synthesis and arrangement of parts and characters, 
assumes a new co-operative character the character of 
groups of related activities which are all co-ordinated into 
intimate relations and functions so as to preserve the plant 
and maintain its activities as a whole. As we proceed to 
animals we find not only this intimate structural synthesis 
of parts and characters on a co-operative basis and with 
co-ordinated functions, but in the emergence of the central 
nervous system and brain we see a new element of control 
and direction, which transforms the entire system, makes 
its co-operation more complex and efficient and gives it an 
entirely new range of meaning and activity. When we come 
to the human stage we find the highest flowering of this 
central control in the human personality. We find a range 
of values and activities undreamt of at the earlier stages. 
And we find these values and activities themselves tending 
to become wholes in the higher ranges of spiritual and artistic 
production. The wholeness which was only structural, 
inchoate, partial at the beginning of the scale of Nature, 
here becomes to a large extent dominant and all-pervasive. 
Holism, which on the lower levels was working against 
almost insuperable obstructions and difficulties, here 
emerges in a sense victorious. It is as yet only a very 
partial victory. Even the most complete human person- 
ality and the most perfect artistic creation are still full of 
imperfections, and are only an approximation to the ideal 
wholeness. Holism has still a long way to go. From the 
high human level it points the way to the future, and 


shows that in wholeness, in the creation of ever more perfect 
and significant wholes, lies the inner meaning and trend of 
the universe. It is as if the Great Creative Spirit hath said : 
" Behold, I make all things whole." 

The ascending order of wholes or the stages in which 
Holism expresses itself in the progressive phases of reality 
may therefore be roughly and provisionally summarised as 
follows : 

1. Definite material structure or synthesis of parts in 
natural bodies but with no more internal activity 
known at present than that of mere physical or chemical 
forces or energies : e.g. in a chemical compound. 

2. Functional structure in living bodies, where the 
parts in this specific synthesis become actively co- 
operative and function jointly for the maintenance of 
the body : e.g. in a plant. 

3. This specific co-operative activity becomes co- 
ordinated or regulated by some marked central control 
which is still mostly implicit and unconscious : e.g. 
in an animal. 

4. The central control becomes conscious and cul- 
minates in Personality; at the same time it emerges 
in more composite holistic groups in Society. 

5. In human associations this central control be- 
comes super-individual in the State and similar group 

6. Finally, there emerge the ideal wholes, or holistic 
Ideals, or absolute Values, disengaged and set free from 
human personality, and operating as creative factors on 
their own account in the upbuilding of a spiritual world. 
Such are the Ideals of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, 
which lay the foundations of a new order in the universe. 

Through all these stages we see the ever-deepening nature 
of the Whole as a specific structural synthesis of parts with 
inner activities of its own which co-operate and function in 
harmony, either naturally or instinctively or consciously. 


The parts so co-operate and co-function towards a definite 
inherent inner end or purpose that together they constitute 
and form a whole more or less of a distinctive character, 
with an identity and an ever-increasing measure of individu- 
ality of its own. The functioning of the parts is influenced 
by their place in the milieu of the other parts, and whole 
and parts thus reciprocally constitute and determine each 
other. And the whole thus formed is creative of new 
development at all stages, even at the first, although this is 
only an inchoate, immature stage. We thus arrive at the 
conception of a universe which is not a collection of accidents 
externally put together like an artificial patchwork, but 
which is synthetic, structural, active, vital and creative in 
increasing measure all through, the progressive development 
of which is shaped by one unique holistic activity operative 
from the humblest inorganic beginnings to the most exalted 
creations and ideals of the human and of the universal Spirit. 

We find thus a great unifying creative tendency of a 
specific holistic character in the universe, operating through 
and sustaining the forces and activities of Nature and life and 
mind, and giving ever more of a distinctive holistic character 
to the universe. This creative tendency or principle we call 
Holism. Holism in all its endless forms is the principle 
which works up the raw material or unorganised energy 
units of the world, utilises, assimilates and organises them, 
endows them with specific structure and character and 
individuality, and finally with personality, and creates 
beauty and truth and value from them. And it does all 
this through a definite method of whole-making, which it 
pursues with ever-increasing intensity from the beginning 
to the end, through things and plants and beasts and men. 
Thus it is that a scale of wholes forms the ladder of Evolu- 
tion. It is through a continuous and universal process of 
whole-making that reality rises step by step, until from the 
poor, empty, worthless stuff of its humble beginnings it 
builds the spiritual world beyond our greatest dreams. 

The concept of the whole as a means of tracing the evolu- 
tion of reality has several advantages. In the first place, 


as the whole is at once both structural and expressive of an 
inner general principle or tendency, its concept is as it were 
a working model of the natural wholes we find in the universe, 
and is as near as we could get to that concrete character of 
reality to which we should have the closest regard. The 
concept of Holism and the whole is as nearly as possible a 
replica of Nature's observed process, and its application 
will prevent us from appearing to run the stuff of reality 
into a mould alien to Nature. It will, therefore, enable us 
to explain Nature from herself, so to say, and by her own 
standards. In this way justice can be done to the concrete 
character of natural phenomena. 

In the second place, the fundamental concept of Holism 
will bring us nearer to that unitary or monistic conception 
of the universe which is the immanent ideal of all scientific 
and philosophic explanation. At the same time it will 
enable us to bridge the chasms and to resolve the anti- 
nomies which divide the concepts of matter, life and mind 
inter se. Their absolute separateness as concepts is overcome, 
and their actual overlapping (in the way we have seen) is 
explained, by viewing them as phases of the development of 
a more fundamental activity in the universe. The concept 
of Holism, so to say, dissolves the heterogeneous concepts 
of matter, life and mind, and then recrystallises them out as 
polymorphous forms of itself. The monism which results 
is not static or barren, as monism necessarily is in the 
philosophy of Absolutism, but progressive, creative and 
pluralistic in accordance with the demands of scientific 
theory and practical common sense. We shall thus be 
prepared to find more of life in matter, and more of mind in 
life, because the hard-and-fast demarcations between them 
have fallen away. While accepting these terms (matter, life 
and mind) as generally and roughly marking off the main 
divisions of reality, we shall not be tempted to force their 
application too far, and we shall be prepared for such limits 
to their extensions as science may show to be necessary. 

In the third place, a very real advantage will accrue from 
the substitution of a more definite concept for the vague and 


unsatisfactory popular idea of life. The vagueness and in- 
definiteness of the idea of life have proved a serious stumbling- 
block and have largely influenced biologists to look for the 
way out in the direction of mechanism. The concept of 
life has no definite content which makes it of any scientific 
value. Its value is roughly to demarcate an area from 
other areas; it is a name for a class of phenomena which 
differ generally from other classes. As such it will remain 
useful in Science, in addition to its popular use, which of 
course no amount of criticism will ever affect. The term 
" matter " will remain in popular use in spite of the fact 
that Science may completely change its meaning; its 
connotation may be revolutionised while it remains in use 
to denote a class of sensible phenomena for which there is 
no other equally convenient name. Similarly with the use 
of the term " life." It will remain useful to denote a class 
of phenomena, without it remaining or being useful in 
describing them, which will have to be done through more 
rigorous concepts. The concept of life is too vague to be 
definable and pinned down to a definite content; at the 
same time, and perhaps for that very reason, it is liable to 
be hypostatised into a substance or a force apart from the 
organism which it denotes. It is this abuse, in addition to 
its indefiniteness, which has led to its abandonment by the 
great majority of biologists, who have preferred to see in life 
nothing but a specific type of mechanism. I suggest that 
the substitution, for scientific and philosophic purposes, of 
the concept of the whole for life would give far more precision 
to the underlying idea. Thus a definite concept, whose 
properties could be investigated and defined, would take 
the place of a vague expression, already ruined by popular 
use and abuse. A living organism is not an organism plus 
life, as if life were something different and additional to it ; 
it is just the organism in its unique character as a whole, 
which can be closely defined. The sense in which it differs 
from a chemical compound considered as a whole is also 
capable of accurate definition ; and thus it is quite unneces- 
sary to resort to the dubious concept of mechanism in order 


to describe the living organism or, as I prefer to call it, the 
holistic organism. The concept of the whole enables us to 
use a technical scientific terminology, which is not vitiated 
by popular usage, and which is capable of accurate definition 
and description. 

The substitution of the concept or the category of the 
whole for that of life will probably be found a solvent for 
many of the most perplexing problems in biology as well as 
the philosophy of life. The whole connects not only with 
the physical on the one side and the psychical on the other, 
thus maintaining the contacts of Nature ; it brings to bear a 
perfectly definite and intelligible concept on the phenomena 
of " life," for which hitherto no other definite category has 
been found except the other misleading and misplaced one 
of mechanism. 

In the foregoing I have tried to give some preliminary 
and introductory sketch of the concept of the whole, which 
will be further developed and filled in as this inquiry proceeds. 
For the sake of simplicity I have omitted reference to an 
important feature in that concept which I must now proceed 
to mention and explain. I have stated that by the whole I 
mean, not the All- Whole of Absolutist philosophy, but the 
whole as exemplified and operative in small natural centres 
or empirical wholes such as we observe in Nature. I must 
now add that by the whole I mean this whole plus its field, 
its field not as something different and additional to it, but 
as the continuation of it beyond the sensible contours of 
experience. I have before drawn attention to the vital 
importance of this concept, and I now proceed to explain 
and emphasise this point more fully. 

Perhaps the most important contribution which the Theory 
of Relativity has made to our understanding of reality is the 
integration of time with our spatial conceptions of the 
sensible world. We are too prone to look at things merely 
in their spatial relations, to consider them merely as objects 
in space. They are just as much events in time, coming 
from the past, enduring through the present, and reaching 
out into the future. As we have seen, they are not static 


but dynamic in their inmost structure, they are moving and 
active in Space-Time; and indeed their active energy is 
their very essence, much more than the mere static spatial 
appearance which they present to the observer. As merely 
extended, spatial and external, objects are barren abstract 
concepts and not the sections of concrete reality which we 
know them to be. It is the time-factor that makes the 
difference ; Time integrated with Space is active and creative, 
and productive of reality. The sensible objects and things 
of which we are aware in Nature are active energy systems 
in Space-Time; they are events even more than objects 
and things ; they are concentrated centres of happening in 
the physical sense just as, at a higher stage of evolution, we 
find minds as active concentrated centres of experience. 
To understand Nature properly it is essential that we should 
habituate ourselves to look upon material bodies or things 
literally as events, as centres of happening, and upon the 
time element in them as being no less important than the 
sensible space element. The limitation of objects or things 
to their space relations or aspects obscures and distorts their 
real character for us and has to be got rid of at all costs. 

The effect of another serious limiting factor in our sensible 
experience has to be recognised and eliminated. I have 
already referred to Bergson's description of the intelligence 
as a selective, discriminative, eliminative, limiting factor 
in our experience of the world. But the trouble really goes 
deeper than that. Not only our intellect but our senses 
also show the same tendency and defects. All our senses are 
definitely limited and reveal to us directly only a limited 
narrow range of the properties of things. It is one of the 
main tasks of Science to construct instruments which will 
supplement the limitations of our senses. An object just 
visible to the naked eye presents a very different appearance 
when seen through a powerful microscope. The microscope, 
the telescope, the spectroscope, photomicrography, the 
X-ray spectrum with its revelation of the constitution of 
the atom all these and many more are devices to extend 
our senses beyond their limited natural range. The 


combined effect of our limited sensibility and the practical 
selective character of our intelligence accounts in part for 
the fact that things appear to us limited in size and form, 
with definite contours and margins and surfaces beyond 
which they do not go and come to a dead stop. This dead 
stop is an illusion largely due to the defects of our natural 
apparatus of observation. The activities which constitute 
the thing go beyond the sensible contours. The material 
part which we popularly call the thing is merely the con- 
centrated sensible focus which discloses itself to our limited 
sensibility and selective intelligence; beyond that it is the 
dark " field " which is formed by the activities and properties 
of the thing beyond its sensible focal centre. We have seen 
in Chapter III how the inner structure of matter results in 
certain physical and chemical properties which constitute 
its field. The field is as much an integral part of matter as 
the sensible part which it surrounds. Anything coming 
within that field will be affected by it ; the field shows the 
same properties as the thing. The field may either be viewed 
as activities or as structure as elements of force or as curves. 
Indeed from many points of view structure and function, 
curve and force are convertible terms for the purpose of 
describing physical effects. The essential point is that the 
physical field is an extension of the active energy system of 
the thing beyond its sensible outlines, an extension which 
shows the same properties and has the same effects on other 
things within that field as the thing itself, though with ever- 
diminishing force or strength as the field recedes from the 
thing. I have already explained how this concept of the 
field renders intelligible the phenomena of physical action 
at a distance as well as of physical causation. So far as a 
body acts or is acted upon by external bodies this process 
takes place in its field and nowhere else. In their fields 
bodies interpenetrate each other and thus secure that 
continuity between them which supplies the bridge for the 
passage of change between them. 

So much for purely physical fields. In the consideration 
of organisms as wholes the question of the field becomes 


much more important than in the case of physical bodies. 
What is the field of an organism ? Many will be tempted 
to reply offhand that it is its environment. That answer 
will, however, be too wide and may be seriously misleading. 
The environment is a confused complex concept, and there 
is much more in it than belongs to the field of a particular 
organism. The field of an organism is its extension beyond 
its sensible limits, it is the more there is in the organism 
beyond these limits. To get to the field of an organism 
we Jiave to answer this question : In order fully to under- 
stand the nature, functions and activities of an organism, 
what more is necessary to its concept beyond its sensible 
data ? An organism appears a mystery because the sensible 
data are insufficient to account for its character and proper- 
ties. Biologists dissect and ransack its sensible structure 
to find there the physical basis and explanation of its 
activities; but in doing so they put a weight upon that 
structure which is often more than it can bear. For the 
fact is that the sensible structure is not the whole structure, 
and is too narrow a base for the superstructure of organic 
activities which seem to grow from out of the sensible 
structure. For the full explanation of these activities we 
have to search another part of the structure which is not 
sensible and has on that account been ignored hitherto; I 
refer to the field. Biologists have tried to find in the 
organic structure physical elements or mechanisms to account 
for all the properties and functions of the organism. But 
there are literally not sufficient sensible elements to go 
round ; the infinity of variations which take place in organic 
life vastly transcend the apparent physiological elements. 
A minute speck of protoplasm is supposed to carry in its 
structure, on a sort of point to point correspondence, the 
hereditary experience of the race for untold millions of years, 
and this structure is in addition required to account for much 
more besides in the individual life. The industry and 
ingenuity which have been displayed in this search 
for the inner mechanisms are above praise, but beyond 
a certain point the search is certain to be vain; results 


become mere guess-work, and the very existence of the 
structures and mechanisms sought for is more than 
problematic. The concept of the field overcomes this 
difficulty. According to this view the sensible structure 
is a narrow concentrated sensible focus beyond which is 
indefinitely extended an insensible structural field as the 
carrier of organic properties. And the question arises how 
we have to conceive this field and what there is in it. What 
has been said of the Time factor in the physical field applies 
with tenfold more force here. The organism much more 
than the physical body is an historic event, a focus of happen- 
ing, a gateway through which the infinite stream of change 
flows ceaselessly. The sensible organism is only a point, a 
sort of transit station which stands for an infinite past of 
development, for the history and experience of untold 
millions of ancestors, and in a vague indefinite way for 
the future which will include an indefinite number of 
descendants. The past, the present, the future all meet in 
that little structural centre, that little wayside station on 
the infinite trail of life. But they only meet there, 
without its being able to contain them all. From that 
centre radiates off a field of ever-decreasing intensity 
of structure or force, which represents what has endured 
of that past, and what is vaguely anticipated of the 
future. The organism and its field is one continuous 
structure which, beginning with an articulated sensible 
central area, gradually shades off into indefiniteness. In 
this continuum is contained all of the past which has been 
conserved and still operates to influence the present and the 
future of the organism ; in it also is contained all that the 
organism is and does in the present; and finally, in it is 
contained all that the organism vaguely points to in its own 
future development and that of its offspring. In other 
words, the organism and its field, or the organism as a 
" whole " the holistic organism contains its past and much 
of its future in its present. These elements are in it as active 
factors, the future and the past interacting with the present. 
The whole is there, carrying all its time with it, but clear 


and definite only for a small central area, and beyond that 
more and more fading away in respect of the dim past and 
the dimmer future. And this time is not the abstract time 
of mechanics, but real creative passage or duration in the 
Bergsonian sense. The biological whole is fully explained not 
merely in the light of its past and its present but also of 
its future. The force which it exerts in its field is the ex- 
pression of its total time factor. It is impossible to over- 
estimate the importance of this time factor in the develop- 
ment and consequently in the explanation of organism. An 
organism is a continuous autogenesis : behind it is its 
phylogeny, which it partially repeats in its individual his- 
tory, and which in any case is a powerful factor in its 
individual development; before it, again, is the future to 
which it points, not only as general orientation of coming 
development, but more specially as the realisation of the 
potentialities which it holds as the seeds of the future. 
The pull of the future is almost as much upon it as the 
push of the past, and both are essential to the character, 
functions and activities which it displays in the present. 
But without the concept and the imagery of the field, 
which contains both the future and the past in the whole, 
it would be difficult to render the presence and the operation 
of the future as a factor in organic activity and development 
intelligible. The current view of structure restricts it entirely 
to the past and explains it as a product of the past, and 
therefore fails to give a complete view of it. 

A word of explanation may here be said about the nature 
of an organic field. The functioning of individual structures 
in an organism is not the isolated business of these structures 
alone, but takes place in the milieu of other structures and 
their functions and is influenced and modified by them. 
This functioning, so influenced and modified, again becomes 
in due course incorporated into structure. Thus structure 
and function react on each other and develop in the general 
dynamic make-up of the organism with its field. All 
functioning takes place in a field, that is to say, in a milieu 
of other functionings. Every organic happening takes place, 


not in isolation, but in a general modifying atmosphere of 
happenings. This subtle interdependence of functionings 
in an organic field forms an essential part in the inner 
laboratory of change and advance. The analysis of living 
forms merely into elements with their functions misses the 
real mark. In the cell and the organism everything functions 
as influenced and modified internally by everything else; 
and the result is not so much due to this or that element, 
this or that factor or gene by itself, as to the inter-relations 
between the factors in the general structure and field. The 
whole is as operative a factor as the parts and should always 
be kept in view by the researcher. Besides this internal 
organic field constituted by the reciprocal inter-relations of 
the parts in the cell or the organism, there is the external 
field which connects the organism with the environment. 
In this field there is a continual interchange of external 
stimulus and inner response. The close adaptation of 
organisms to their environment is a proof of the close con- 
nection between this external and the internal field of the 
organism. The structural and functional evolution of 
organisms takes place largely in response to this external 
environmental influence. The external field forms the 
extension of the internal field, and together they form the 
total milieu for all happening and change in connection with 
organisms. And whatever takes place in this total field 
does so holistically, that is to say, not in isolation but in 
reciprocal and mutual association with all other functioning 
within that field. The past, the future, the internal elements 
in the organic structure as well as its external environment, 
all form integral features in the total field of an organism, 
influencing its functioning and its evolution. 

It is unnecessary at this stage to explore further into the 
field of organism, as we shall have to recur to the concept 
of the field when we come to consider the principles of 
organic Evolution in Chapter VIII. Enough has been said 
to show that in biology, perhaps even more than in physics, 
the concept may prove helpful in the elucidation of 
phenomena which it is almost impossible to explain on 


the narrow and confined basis of the existing organic 

In explaining the important topics with which this chapter 
deals I do not know in how far I have succeeded in making 
my meaning clear. Nor do I feel sure that the ideas here 
developed have been presented in their best or final form. 
It is quite possible that in more expert hands they may 
prove capable of better statement and more skilful develop- 
ment. I trust, however, that what seems unclear and 
doubtful at this stage will become both intelligible and 
acceptable in the following chapters, where the concepts of 
this chapter will be further developed and applied in the 
explanation of organic and psychic Evolution. 

Let me conclude with a word on nomenclature, intended 
to prevent ambiguity and misconception in the sequel. 
According to the view expounded in this chapter the whole 
in each individual case is the centre and creative source 
of reality. It is the real factor from which the rest in each 
case follows. But there is an infinity of such wholes com- 
prising all the grades of existence in the universe; and it 
becomes necessary to have a general term which will include 
and cover all wholes as such under one concept. For this 
the term Holism has been coined; Holism thus comprises 
all wholes in the universe. It is thus both a concept and a 
factor : a concept as standing for all wholes, a factor 
because the wholes it denotes are the real factors in the uni- 
verse. We speak of matter as including all particles of 
matter in the universe : in the same way we shall speak of 
Holism as including all wholes which are the ultimate 
creative centres of reality in the world. 

Difficulty may arise because Holism will sometimes 
also be used in another sense, to denote a theory of the 
universe. Thus while matter and spirit are taken as real 
or substantive factors, and material-ism and spiritual-ism 
or ideal-ism as concepts or theories in reference to them 
respectively, it would by analogy not be improper to use 
the term Hoi-ism to express the view that the ultimate 
reality of the universe is neither matter nor spirit but 


wholes as defined in this book. And sometimes Holism 
will be used in that wider sense as a theory of reality. But 
its primary and proper use is to denote the totality of wholes 
which operate as real factors and give to reality its dynamic 
evolutionary creative character. No confusion need arise 
if these two distinct applications of the term are borne in 



So far as I am aware, the principle of Holism as here formulated 
is of all philosophers approached most closely by Professor A. N. 
Whitehead in his Science and the Modern World. In an earlier note 
(at the end of Chapter I) it was explained that in the fallacy of Mis- 
placed Concreteness due to simple location he wrestles with the same 
problem of concealed abstraction which I have sought to overcome 
by the concept of the " field." We envisage the same problem 
though arriving at alternative solutions. In regard to what is here 
called Holism we again envisage the same situation and reach results 
which are very close to each other. Our procedures are different. 
In arriving at the concept of Holism I follow the lead of Science along 
a route suggested naturally by the accepted facts of physical and 
biological science. Professor Whitehead, on the other hand, is 
guided more particularly by psychological and philosophical analysis, 
He thinks that the current scientific scheme is at fault in that " it 
provides none of the elements which compose the immediate psycho- 
logical experiences of mankind. Nor does it provide any elementary 
trace of the organic unity of a whole, from which the organic unities 
of electrons, protons, molecules, and living bodies can emerge ' 
(p. 108). 

Professor Whitehead therefore assumes on the analogy of 
Spinoza's ultimate Substance that there is in the universe " one 
underlying activity of realisation, individualising itself in an inter- 
locked plurality of modes " (p. 108). We must here understand that 
Whitehead's modes (unlike Spinoza's) are " simple locations " taken 
in their separateness. Now, as was explained in the note at the end 
of Chapter I, the mistake of simple location is, according to White- 
head, overcome if we conceive a thing or event as embracing in its 
apparent spatial limits, not only its own intrinsic characters, but 
also the perspectives, from it, of all other things or events. The 
concrete thing or event is thus a synthesised unity which transcends 
its simple spatial appearance and includes a little unified world, so 


to say. These are the concrete events. The actual world is a com- 
plex of such concrete finite entities or events. " Space and Time 
exhibit the general scheme of their interlocked relations. You 
cannot tear any one of them out of its context. Yet each one of 
them within the context has all the reality which attaches to the 
whole complex. Conversely, the totality has the same reality as 
each event, for each event unifies the modalities to be ascribed, from 
its standpoint, to every part of the whole. A prehension (event) 
is a process of unifying. Accordingly, nature is a process of expansive 
development, a structure of evolving processes. The reality is 
the process " (pp. 107-8). 

Thus Whitehead arrives at the result that there is a fundamental 
process in the world which realises and actualises individual syntheses 
or unities, which are for him the real concrete events of the world. 
The things, entities or objects of physical science are for him abstrac- 
tions, deprived of their essential relations, connections, and per- 
spectives with the rest of the world. 

Whitehead then proceeds to point out (p. 115) that these abstract 
entities of science underlie the whole concept of scientific materialism, 
and that for these entities has to be substituted the concept of 
organisms, which emerges from his analysis. His doctrine of 
organisms he then proceeds to formulate as follows : " The concrete 
enduring entities are organisms, so that the plan of the whole influences 
the very characters of the various subordinate organisms which enter 
into it. In the case of an animal, the mental states enter into the 
plan of the total organism and thus modify the plans of the successive 
subordinate organisms until the smallest organisms, such as elec- 
trons, are reached. Thus an electron within a living body is different 
from an electron outside it, by reason of the plan of the body. The 
electron blindly runs either within or without the body, but it runs 
within the body in accordance with the general plan of the body, and 
this plan includes the mental state. But the principle of modification 
is perfectly general throughout nature, and represents no property 
peculiar to living bodies. This doctrine involves the abandonment 
of the traditional scientific materialism, and the substitution of an 
alternative doctrine of organism. I would term the doctrine the 
theory of organic mechanism. In this theory, the molecules may 
blindly occur in accordance with general laws, but the molecules 
differ in their intrinsic characters according to the general organic 
plans of the situations in which they find themselves " (pp. 115-16). 
Again : " An individual entity, whose own life-history is a part 
within the life-history of some larger, deeper, more complete pattern, 
is liable to have aspects of that larger pattern dominating its own 
being, and to experience modifications of that larger pattern reflected 
in itself as modifications of its own being. This is the theory of 


organic mechanism. . . ." " The general state of the universe, as 
it now is, partly determines the very essences of the entities whose 
modes of functioning the laws of nature express. The general 
principle is that in a new environment there is an evolution of the 
old entities into new forms " (p. 156). Again : " The whole point 
of the doctrine is the evolution of the complex organisms from 
antecedent states of less complex organisms. The doctrine thus 
cries aloud for a conception of organism as fundamental for nature. 
It also requires an underlying activity substantial activity 
expressing itself in individual embodiments, and evolving in achieve- 
ments of organisms. The organism is a unit of emergent value, a 
real fusion of the characters of external objects, emerging for its own 
sake " (p. 157). 

It will be seen from the above quotations how close the theory of 
Organic Mechanism is to that of Holism. In both there is the 
fundamental natural activity, which is of a real substantial character 
and no mere general descriptive formula of the evolutionary process. 
In both there is an evolution of forms, structures, patterns and their 
functions in accordance with the law of the whole. The nature of 
the whole prescribes the modus operandi of evolution, that is to say, 
the complex structure or pattern, and its parts reciprocally influence 
and modify and constitute each other. My treatment brings out 
more clearly the holistic character of the process and its results, and 
emphasises the character of wholeness more than does Whitehead's 
exposition. I also extend the application of the whole as a formative 
principle to the entire range of reality, including personality and the 
ideal spiritual sphere, whereas Whitehead discusses the new idea 
merely in its application to the domain of the physical and the 
biological. In spite, however, of these minor differences of treat- 
ment, our underlying ideas seem to come very closely together, if not 
to coincide. This is indeed a most remarkable circumstance, in view 
not only of the difference of the methods we have followed, but also 
and especially of the fact that our ideas have been worked out quite 
independently, and indeed mine had been formed and formulated as 
far back as 1910. I venture to hope that this convergence of views 
points to something really significant in the new theory or theories. 
They certainly touch the most important issues in our outlook on 
science and philosophy. 

I have great admiration for Professor Whitehead's penetrating 
analysis, to which he brings an equipment rare since the " century of 
genius." But in one respect I submit that my treatment has 
perhaps an advantage over his. My wider application of the main 
idea has compelled me to look upon the concept of " organism " as 
itself subordinate and sectional and to call the underlying process by 
a different, more significant name. Holism as the principle of the 


whole can be so defined in its progressive applications that it fits 
inorganic as well as organic situations, and mental, personal, and 
spiritual situations no less well. I am afraid " organism " will not 
do in its application to the inorganic, and still less when used in 
reference to the phenomena of Personality and the ideal spiritual 
values. A theory of organism or organic mechanism which raises 
the inorganic to the same level as organisms may in the end prove 
almost as faulty or misleading as the opposite scientific view which 
depresses organisms to the level of the inorganic and purely physical. 
To call an atom an organism, as Professor Whitehead does, seems 
to me to open the door to serious confusions, to break down scientific 
distinctions which are really valuable, and to render the ordinary 
reader liable to the pitfalls of metaphors in matters calling for 
accurate description. Professor Whitehead's chapter on the Quantum 
is to me a proof that the new terminology proposed by him will 
largely tend to obscurity, to forced expressions and possibly to 
misunderstanding. The atom has a different structure or pattern 
different in kind from that of the organism, and it is not really 
helpful to use the same descriptive, or worse, explanatory term for 
both. Nor could the soul or a personality, or the Supreme Good be 
rightly or usefully called an organism. I would put in a strong plea 
for the term Holism, which, uncouth though it has been called, has 
no confusing associations, and is wide and significant enough to cover 
all the groups of emergent synthetic entities and values in the 
universe, and throughout points to the basic character constituting 
all of them. 



Summary. Avoiding as far as possible philosophical categories and 
confining ourselves to scientific view-points, we shall now try to 
consider more closely the concept of the whole and the results 
flowing from it. We have already seen that the concept of the 
whole means not a general tendency but a type of structure, a schema 
or framework, which, however, can only be filled with concrete 
details by actual experience. A whole is then a synthesis or struc : 
ture of parts in which the synthesis becomes ever closer so as 
materially to affect the character of the functions or activities 
which become correspondingly more unified (or holistic). It is, 
however, important to realise that the whole is not some tertium 
quid over and above the parts which compose it; it is the parts 
in their intimate union, and the new reactions which result from 
that union. But in that union the parts themselves are more or 
less affected and altered towards the type represented by the union, 
so that the whole is evidenced in a change of parts as well as a 
change of resulting functions. 

The whole thus appears as a marked power of regulation and 
co-ordination in respect of both the structure and the functioning 
of the parts. This is probably the most striking feature of organ- 
isms that they involve a balanced correlation of organs and 
functions. All the various activities of the several parts and organs 
seem directed to central ends ; there is thus co-operation and unified 
action of the organism as a whole instead of the separate mechanical 
activities of the parts. The whole thus becomes synonymous with 
unified (or holistic) action. 

This intense synthesis and unification in the action of a whole 
involve a corresponding transformation of concepts and categories. 
Thus while in a mechanical aggregate each part acts as a separate 
cause, and the resultant activity is a sum of the component activities, 
in organic activity or the activity of the whole this separate action 
or causation disappears in a real synthesis or unity which makes 
the components unrecognisable in the unified result. Yet even 
here we must realise that the whole does not act as a separate cause, 
distinct from its parts, no more than it is itself something additional 
over and above its parts. Holism is of the parts and acts through 



the parts, but the parts in their new relation of intimate synthesis 
which gives them their unified action. 

The whole, therefore, completely transforms the concept of 
Causality. When an external cause acts on a whole, the resultant 
effect is not merely traceable to the cause, but has become trans- 
formed in the process. The whole seems to absorb and metabolise 
the external stimulus and to assimilate it into its own activity ; and 
the resultant response is no longer the passive effect of the stimulus 
or cause, but appears as the activity of the whole. This holistic 
transformation of causality takes place in all organic stimuli and 
responses. The cause or stimulus applied does not issue in its 
own passive effect, but in an active response which seems more 
clearly traceable to the organism or whole itself. In fact the 
physical category of " cause " undergoes a far-reaching change in 
its application to organisms or wholes generally. The whole 
appears as the real cause of the response, and not the external 
stimulus, which seems to play the quite minor r61e of a mere 
excitant or condition. 

The most important result of the idea of the whole is, however, 
the appearance of the concept of Creativeness. It is the synthesis 
involved in the concept of the whole which is the source of creative- 
ness in Nature. Nature is creative, Evolution is creative, just in 
proportion as it consists of wholes which bring about new structural 
groupings and syntheses. The whole evolves these new structural 
groupings out of the old materials; and thus arises the " creative- 
ness " of Evolution, as well as the novelty and initiative which 
we see in organic Nature. The concept of creativeness which 
flows from that of the whole has the most far-reaching effects in 
its application to Nature. Once we grasp firmly the fact that 
Nature and Evolution are really creative, we are out of the bonds 
of the old crude mechanical ideas, and we enter an altogether new 
zone of ideas and categories. But the important point for our purpose 
is that " creativeness " is simply a deduction from the concept of 
the whole and is characteristic of the order of wholes in the universe. 
It is wholes and wholes only that are creative. The formula omne 
vivum e vivo could therefore be generalised and applied to wholes 
generally. This creativeness issues not only in the origin of new 
organic species, but also in the great Values which are the creations 
of the whole on the spiritual level. 

From this it is clear how also the concept of Freedom is rooted 
in that of the whole, organic or other. For the external causation 
is absorbed and transformed by the subtle metabolism of the whole 
into something of itself; otherness becomes selfness; the pressure 
of the external is transformed into the action of itself. Necessity 
or external determination is transformed into self-determination 
or Freedom. And as the series of wholes progresses the element 


of Freedom increases in the universe, until finally at the human stage 
Freedom takes conscious control of the process and begins to create 
the free ethical world of the spirit. Holism thus becomes basic to 
the entire universe of organic progress and free creative advance, 
to the Values and Ideals which ultimately give life all of worth it 
has, and to the Freedom which is the condition of all spiritual as 
well as organic progress. 

But Holism is seen not only in the advance, in the changes and 
variations for ever going forward. It is seen just as much in the 
stability of the great Types. The new always arrives in the bosom 
of the pre-existing structure, and at its prompting and largely in 
harmony with it. Its novelty is small compared to its essential 
conservatism. Variation is infinitesimal compared to Heredity. 
It is this fundamental unity or unitariness and wholeness in organ- 
isms and organic Evolution generally which seems to explain their 
essential stability as well as the regulation and co-ordination of 
the whole process, its conservative self-control if one may use a 

Individuality and purposiveness, as holistic categories, are referred 
to more especially in Chapter IX. 

The chapter concludes with a summary of the functions which 
Holism exercises in the shaping of Evolution. 

IN the last chapter the ideas of the whole and Holism 
were sketched in a general and preliminary way. Before 
we proceed to test the working value of the new ideas it 
will be necessary to explore somewhat more deeply into 
them. It is the vagueness of the concept of Life which 
makes it unsatisfactory for scientific purposes, and we 
should make certain that the concept of the whole, which 
is intended to make it definite for scientific purposes, be 
made as clear as possible. 

Let me here say a word about the method we are pur- 
suing. Hitherto we have as closely as possible followed 
the results of science; we have studied the fundamental 
structures of physical and biological science in the atom 
and the cell, and endeavoured to frame a concept of the 
whole on the basis of those structures. I propose to con- 
tinue to pursue this course, and to explore and build up 
the concept of the whole from the results of the analysis 
of Nature. We shall try to understand what is involved 


and implied in the processes of the small centres of unity 
in Nature, and derive as much aid and illumination from 
them as possible; in that way we shall try to proceed as 
a matter of method from the apparently simple to the 
complex. We are trying to build up a natural concept 
of the whole, and for that as well as other reasons we 
are avoiding a recourse to philosophical considerations. 
The temptation is very strong for investigators when 
they approach the domains of life and mind, so different 
apparently from that of physical science, to abandon the 
scientific categories of research for philosophical categories, 
and to seek for an explanation of the phenomena of life 
in concepts which sound strange and alien to science. 
No wonder that most biologists, frightened by this procedure 
and by this appeal to ideas and methods of which they 
are traditionally suspicious, react in the opposite direction, 
and seek refuge in purely mechanical ideas and explanations 
of the phenomena of life. At first sight the concept of 
the whole may appear to wear a metaphysical garb ; but 
whatever its occasional use in other connections, the 
intention here is to eschew metaphysics and to hammer 
out a concept which will supply a real and deeply felt 
want in the explanation of organic processes, and which 
will at the same time give expression to the natural 
affiliations of the phenomena of life with those of matter 
on the one hand and of mind on the other. We shall 
follow the scientific clues as far as is in any way possible 
in the carrying out of this intention. Above all it is neces- 
sary to make the concept of the whole as simple, clear and 
definite as possible. 

I wish to guard against the impression that philosophy has 
no contribution to make to the consideration of the whole 
and Holism generally. On the contrary, here as elsewhere 
the last word will probably be with philosophy. There is a 
Metaphysic or Logic of Holism still to be written, which will 
lay bare the ultimate ideas involved and their relations 
and validity. That task is not attempted here. Avoiding 
the metaphysical implications, I am in this book merely 


endeavouring to elucidate as clearly and simply as possible 
the idea of the whole with its most obvious general 
consequences, and to state the broad effect which its clear 
realisation must have on our methods of thought and research. 

Let me repeat what was said in the last chapter; the 
whole is not a general principle or tendency; it is a 
structure or schema. A natural body or organism can be 
analysed into two factors; the form, structure or schema, 
and the concrete characters or qualities which fill up 
that form or structure. For these concrete characters 
or qualities we have in every case to rely on experience; 
the colour, feel or smell of a thing or the characters 
of an animal can only be learnt from observation or 
experience in any particular case. But the form or 
structure involves features which can be most conveniently 
generalised into concepts, and if these concepts are clear 
and definite, results can again be deduced from them 
which make them most useful as counters of thought and 
explanation. The generalised concepts of space and time 
as developed, not so much by the philosophers as by 
the mathematicians, have these qualities of clearness and 
definiteness which make them specially fruitful for in- 
vestigating the structure of the physical world, as we 
have seen in the discussion of the Theory of Relativity. 
And similarly the concept of the whole, if clearly appre- 
hended and firmly held, may become a powerful means 
of exploring the intricate phenomena of life and mind. 
The concept of the whole is a generalised structure 
or schema, a framework to be filled in in any particular 
case; and it is this structural or schematic character 
which brings it close to that concrete character which 
distinguishes all natural objects in the world of experience. 
For the sake of clearness let us proceed to analyse the 
fundamental characters of a whole as we see it exemplified 
in, say, a simple organism. 

A whole is a synthesis or unity of parts, so close that 
it affects the activities and interactions of those parts, 
impresses on them a special character, and makes them 



different from what they would have been in a combination 
devoid of such unity or synthesis. That is the fundamental 
element in the concept of the whole. It is a complex of 
parts, but so close and intimate, so unified, that the char- 
acters and relations and activities of the parts are affected 
and changed by the synthesis. The analogy of a physical 
mixture and a chemical compound is very useful and 
instructive in this connection, and we have already seen 
that in a real though limited sense a chemical compound 
is a whole. A whole is not some tertium quid over and 
above the parts which compose it; it is these parts in 
their intimate union and the new reactions and functions 
which result from that union. It is a new structure of 
those parts, with the altered activities and functions which 
flow from this structure. The parts are not lost or destroyed 
in the new structure into which they enter; the atoms or 
molecules persist in the new compound, just as the cells 
persist in the organism. But their independent functions 
and activities are, just as themselves, grouped, related, 
correlated and unified in the structural whole. A new 
bent is impressed on these functions. They follow a new 
modus operandi in the new pattern of the whole. To the 
structural unity of the parts in the whole corresponds an 
equally and perhaps even more significant functional unity 
or correlation of activities. Just as in dynamics a body 
subject to pulls in various directions moves with one result- 
ant velocity in one definite direction, so the functions and 
the activities of the parts in the whole are all co-ordinated 
and unified into one complex character which belongs or 
appears to belong to the whole as such. With this differ- 
ence, again (just as in the difference between a physical 
mixture and a chemical compound), that the resultant 
function is not a mere addition and composition of the 
unaltered composing functional elements, but the change 
involves both these elements and their final result. Thus 
taking x to represent a mixture and x l to represent a whole, 
we cannot say that a + b + c + d x (mixture) in the 
one case and = x l (whole) in the other ; but in the synthesis 


which results in x l the functions of the parts themselves 
are changed into a v b v c v d v so that corresponding to 
the formula of mixture a + b+c+d = x we have the 
holistic formula a x + b + q + d v = x v It is most im- 
portant to realise this point ; both the individual functions 
of the parts (cells, organs, etc.) and their composition or 
correlation in the complex are affected and altered by the 
synthesis which is the whole. Not only does the synthesis 
of the parts influence and indeed constitute the whole ; 
the whole in its turn impresses its character on each indi- 
vidual part, which feels its influence in the most real and 
intimate manner. The whole-ward tendency and activity 
of the parts are most deeply characteristic of the nature of 
the whole. This, then, is the primary and most important 
element in the concept of the whole : the synthetic unity 
of structure and its functions which affects the parts and 
their functions or activities without their loss or destruction. 
The unity, although so close and intimate and so deeply 
affecting the parts and their functions, is not such as to 
merge the parts completely, but to leave them a latitude 
which varies with individual wholes at the same state of 
development, and still more at different stages of develop-* 

From this fundamental unification of the parts which con- 
stitute the whole, and the intimate reciprocal influence which 
parts and whole exert on each other, follow certain results 
of great importance for our general concept of the whole. 

In the first place, unity of action, which is characteristic 
of the whole, shows itself in the marked power of regulation 
and correlation which the whole appears to possess in 
respect of its parts. This is perhaps the most striking 
feature of organic wholes; however complex they are, a 
certain balanced correlation of functions is maintained. 
If there is any disturbance among the parts which upsets 
the routine of the whole, then either this disturbance is 
eliminated by the co-operative effort of many or all the 
parts, or the functions of the other parts are so readjusted 
that a new balance and routine is established. The synthetic 


unity of the whole produces synthetic or holistic action 
throughout the whole; the activities and functions of the 
parts also become holistic, so that in addition to their 
ordinary routine they have a whole-ward aspect or tendency 
which becomes active whenever the balance of the whole 
is disturbed. It is this holistic character distinguishing 
the activity and functions not only of the whole but also 
of its parts which underlies the remarkable phenomena of 
co-operation among cells to which attention was drawn in 
the fourth chapter. The co-operation is not so much the 
interaction of independent units as in truth and really the 
pressure of the whole on the parts. Indeed the entire 
function or system of the organism is holistic ; the synthetic 
unity of the whole is so deeply stamped on the parts and 
reflected in the activities of the parts, that they all appear 
to " play up " to each other, and to co-operate in maintaining 
or, in case of disturbance, restoring the balance of equilibrium 
of activities which is characteristic of the particular whole. 
From the synthetic unity of the whole follows the holistic 
action of all its parts, as well as the characteristic power of 
correlating and regulating which the whole seems to exert 
in respect of the parts. All these properties really flow from 
the idea and nature of the whole ; once this idea is clearly 
realised, the true principle of organic explanation is found, 
and the application of the ideas and methods of mechanism 
or vitalism becomes superfluous, as we shall see later. 

In order to assist us in rendering clear our ideas of the 
whole and holistic action, as distinguished from those of a 
mechanical aggregate and mechanical action, let us consider 
a material system in dynamic equilibrium, which has many 
analogies to the ideas we are exploring. The character 
of such a system is that within certain limits it will maintain 
its equilibrium against disturbance and interference. If it 
meets with any disturbance, such as an external impact 
or any interference with its internal movements, its equi- 
librium will for a moment be disturbed; but immediately 
readjustments will take place, the effects of the disturbance 
will become distributed throughout the system, new positions 


of the parts and new movements of these parts will result, 
with the effect that a fresh equilibrium is established, and 
the system, with a somewhat altered arrangement of parts 
and movements, will once more be in dynamic equilibrium. 
When we pass from this physical system to an organic 
whole a transformation of ideas takes place : the system 
becomes a synthesis qualitatively different from the system, 
a synthesis so intense that a new unity arises and a different 
order of ideas becomes necessary for its explanation. To 
the mechanical readjustment of the parts correspond the 
regulation and correlation which the organic whole exercises 
in respect of its parts; with this difference, again, that, 
while the new mechanical equilibrium is the exact mathe- 
matical resultant of the component forces, in the organic 
whole, parts and whole reciprocally influence and alter 
each other instead of merely the parts making up the whole, 
and in the end it is practically impossible to say where the 
whole ends and the parts begin, so intimate is their inter- 
action and so profound their mutual influence. In fact so 
intense is the union that the differentiation into parts and 
whole becomes in practice impossible, and the whole seems 
to be in each part, just as the parts are in the whole. There* 
is an intensification of synthesis or unity, as we rise from 
the mechanical composition to the chemical compound, 
and from this again to the organic whole ; an intensification 
which is already qualitatively different as between the first 
two, but which becomes entirely sui generis in the last. To 
mistake the unity of the whole for the mere mechanical 
system of dynamics, and the holistic action which shows 
itself in organic regulation, correlation and co-operative 
interaction for the readjustment of forces and self-mainten- 
ance of equilibrium in the dynamic system, is to confound 
two quite different orders of ideas and facts. The whole 
differs essentially from the mechanical system; holistic 
action or function differs even more essentially from the 
" action " or " reaction " of dynamics, and from the mean- 
ing of those terms as used in Newton's Laws of Motion 
and still current in the physical science of to-day. 


Watch the activities of an animal. See how innumerable 
movements are blended in one definite action. The unity 
and specificity of the action are not reducible to mechanical 
terms ; it is not the dynamical equivalent of its components, 
it follows a quite different pattern or plan. Its unity is 
indeed unique and only explicable by resort to new categories. 
In other words, organic action is holistic and not merely 

In other directions too the nature of the whole brings 
about this intensive transformation of concepts. Let us 
take the idea of cause and see how it is affected by the 
concept of the whole. The causal idea is quite an interest- 
ing test to apply to the whole, and it will help to elucidate 
the point we are dealing with, as well as some other points 
that concern the nature of the whole. The question, for 
instance, whether the whole is something different from 
and additional to its parts is paralleled by the question 
whether the whole acts as a cause as distinct from its parts ; 
in other words, is the causality of the whole exhausted by 
the causal operation of its parts, or is there something over 
and above the influence of the parts which must be attributed 
to the whole as such? I have already explained that the 
whole is nothing but the specific synthesis of the parts and 
not something additional to them. Similarly the causality 
of the whole is not an additional factor, but simply the 
causality of the parts in their intimate synthesis in the 
whole. In mechanical composites each element in opera- 
tion or action has its own effect and is a separate cause; 
and the final result is the resultant blending of all these 
separate effects. In the whole, as we have seen, there is 
not this individual separate action of the parts; there is 
a synthesis which makes the elements or parts act as one 
or holistically ; and the action or function is an inseparable 
holistic unity just in proportion as the synthesis is a 
whole or realises the character of wholeness. It is in 
this sense, and in this sense only, that the whole is a cause ; 
it is a cause not apart from its parts, but solely through 
their synthesis in action. The whole fuses the action of 


its elements into a real synthesis, into a unity which makes 
the result quite different from what it would have been as 
the separate activities of the parts. The structural synthesis 
of the whole results in a similar synthesis of activity or 
function. Just as the whole as a structural unity, and 
only as such, is something different, something new com- 
pared with its parts in their separateness or isolation, so 
too its action is radically different from the blending of 
their separate actions. 

Thus the causality of the whole is explained, and from 
this explanation one can appreciate how immensely com- 
plicated the action or functioning of an organism must be. 
When a stimulus is applied to an organism a whole is 
set in motion, and the response which results is not merely 
an affair of the original stimulus, but of the entire whole 
in all its unique complication of parts and functions which 
has been set in motion. The comparatively simple, isolable 
phenomenon of causation as observed in the interaction of 
material bodies undergoes a complete and radical trans- 
formation when observed in the case of an organism ; and 
the difference is not a mystery, but is deducible from the 
nature of the whole as exemplified by an organism. I shall 
return to this matter immediately, and pass on to another 
important result of the nature of a whole. 

In the preceding chapters I have more than once 
used the word " creative/' I have called the whole 
" creative " ; I have called Evolution " creative " ; I have 
even applied the term to matter in its structural char- 
acterisation. It is important to see in what sense wholes, 
or Evolution generally, or even matter is called " creative/ 1 
and the foregoing discussion will have prepared us for 
the explanation which follows. There is a sense in 
which the word " creation " falls outside the scope of 
an intelligible science or philosophy. I refer to abso- 
lute creation creation, that is to say, out of nothing. 
Absolute creation just as absolute annihilation cannot be 
comprehended by the human mind. E nihilo nihil fit is a 
fundamental principle of thought as well as of Nature. 


But there is another form of creation which is not only 
intelligible but follows directly from the explanation of 
holistic action which I have already given. Holistic action 
is creative, and is the only form of creation or creativeness 
which is intelligible to us. Here again the distinction 
between mere physical mixtures and chemical compounds 
illustrates the difference between what is and what is not 
creative. A mere mechanical aggregate is nothing new, 
and is no more than the sum of the mixed ingredients, while 
the chemical compound is new in the sense that out of the 
constituent materials another qualitatively different sub- 
stance has been made. A new structure has been formed 
in the chemical compound. In the same way a new struc- 
ture and substance is made in the atom out of the quali- 
tatively different electrons and protons. It was on this 
account and in this sense that we called matter creative; 
creative, that is to say, of structures and substances different 
from their constituent elements or parts. 

It is, however, when we come to consider organisms that 
we see the whole creative in a full and proper sense. In 
thought we distinguish between the deductive and the 
inductive between the deduction of the particular from 
the general, the drawing out, unfolding, or explicating what 
is given, and the reverse inductive process, the integration 
or synthesis of the given parts or elements into a new, 
more complex content. The action of organisms proceeds 
on the analogy of induction. We have seen how the char- 
acteristic feature of organic process is metabolism, the 
transformation of the given materials into something 
different, of the inorganic into the organic, of the organic 
material of one kind into that of another kind. Creative 
synthesis is characteristic of all organic actions and functions. 

But it is not in metabolism only that this creative trans- 
formation is exemplified ; perhaps the phenomena of growth 
and development afford even more characteristic and 
significant examples of the creative synthesis which is 
the clearest expression of the nature of Holism. Creation 
is stamped on the face of organic nature; the differences 


which separate individuals into species, genera, orders and 
so forth are real differences which were either originally 
created in one great creative Act at the beginning, or were 
creatively evolved in the gradual process of organic descent, 
so that the Process is creative. Everywhere we meet the 
new, which is irreducible to the old elements from whicli 
it seems to have sprung; the qualities and characters on 
which new stable varieties or species are founded cannot 
be explained on the basis of known pre-existing qualities 
or characters. And even where it is possible to recognise 
certain of the old elements in the new, the new is some- 
thing different and contains something more than the old 
elements. We may say that the creative synthesis consists 
in the making of a new arrangement of old elements, that 
the old elements have been fixed in a new structure which 
has different qualities from the old pre-existing structure ; 
in this case it would only be the synthesis which is really 
new. But to my mind if we take big stretches of organic 
descent and compare the main great Types which distinguish 
the Vegetable and Animal kingdoms, we must inevitably 
come to the conclusion that there is more than this in the 
creative process of evolution. Compare a protozoon with 
a vertebrate animal, or one of the higher animals with 
man, and it surely becomes foolish to say that the elementary 
units are the same in both cases, and only their arrange- 
ment or synthesis into structures is different. Mere re- 
arrangement of supposed unalterable pre-existing elements, 
mere reshufflings of the old cards, will give us a sort of 
chemistry of Evolution, but not the vast range of real 
effective advance which we know. The process of creative 
Evolution is not a mechanical rearrangement of old 
material; it involves the qualitatively new at every stage, 
from the most minute elements to the most complex struc- 
ture. It is not merely the structure which is new and 
different from what has gone before, some of the materials 
are also new ; the details of the new structure also involve 
new smaller structures along with the old inherited 
structures ; and in the final analysis (if that were possible) 


we would find among the elementary units also new ones 
in addition to the old ones carried forward in the process 
of descent. There is the creation of the new variety or 
species (the new structure) ; there is the creation of new 
unit characters (parts of the structure) which justify the 
new species or variety ; and there is behind the new unit 
characters not mere re-arrangements of elements of old 
character units, but an integration of new materials or 
quality elements with the old elements in the formation 
of the new unit characters. The process is creative of 
the new at every step and at every stage, and in the 
smallest quality elements no less than in the large or 
total structures. Starting from imaginary elements a, 6, c, 
d, we find in organic advance in no case a mere struc- 
tural regrouping of these elements only, but everywhere 
an element of qualitative newness, x, incorporated along 
with the old elements into the new structure. In every 
advance we would find not merely a new structure but also 
an % in one form or another. I have used the concept of 
units or elements for the purpose of illustration ; but really 
the creative process of Evolution is holistic, and in the last 
resort unanalysable into definite units; the blending of 
inherited with new structures and characters is so close 
that no dissociation is possible, and it is impossible to say 
where the old elements end and the new begin. But beyond 
any manner of doubt in the advance the new is there along 
with the old in such a way that we can only understand the 
process, both in its entirety and in its minutest detail, as a 
real creative one. 

It may be argued that my view of organic creativeness as 
meaning, not merely new grouping or structures but also 
new character units and quality elements, brings us back 
to that conception of absolute creation which I have already 
declared to be incomprehensible. Is it not better then, it 
may be asked, to fall back on the idea of potentiality rather 
than creativeness, and to conceive the organic advance as 
the rendering actual what was implicit and potential in the 
organism in the beginning? In this way new characters 


which emerge in the course of organic descent would not 
be taken as absolutely new, but as the appearance or emerg- 
ence of potential characters which were there all along in the 
ancestors of the new organism. My answer would be that the 
concept of potentiality is quite useful but not applicable 
here ; the expression of the implicit new is usually a very 
long process which may occupy an indefinite number of 
generations before its actual emergence in a new sensible 
character or species. During this process of subsensible 
growth or incubation the character may be fairly described 
as potential in the ancestors of the new species. But to 
go further back and to say that the new is there in potential 
form from the very beginning is to fall back into the pre- 
formation view of Evolution which we have already in the 
last chapter discarded as making a farce of all real organic 
advance. Potentiality presupposes that the real creative 
work is already done, and that the slow finishing touches of 
expression alone remain to be put on. We have simply to 
face the facts of Nature frankly as we find them ; and to my 
mind there is no doubt, however hard it is to picture to our- 
selves the underlying idea of creation, that the emergence of 
the really new, in other words, the creativeness of the 
evolutionary process, is the only view which is in harmony 
with our scientific knowledge. Real creativeness is a 
fundamental characteristic of holistic structure and action. 
It necessarily means such integration of structures and 
activities as results in new characters not there before and 
which cannot be reduced to pre-existing elements. Holistic 
action, therefore, necessarily issues in real progress and 
creative Evolution. 

There is no doubt that the concept of creativeness raises 
a fundamental issue in respect both of reality and know- 
ledge. If there is this evolution or making not only of 
new wholes or structures, but also of new quality elements 
therein, the whole fabric of Mechanism as ordinarily under- 
stood is shaken to its foundations. The iron rule of the 
past is broken; the future is not a mere rehearsal of the 
past; in many cases the new effect is more than its 


pre-existing cause. The universe ceases to be a hide-bound, 
cast-iron, completely closed system from which real progress 
and freedom are excluded. It is open in one direction, 
the direction in which time is moving; the future faces an 
open gateway, and the universe is the highway of the 
creative movement, of that great march in which all the unit 
wholes and formations of Reality take their part and advance 
towards a fuller measure of wholeness. The freedom is 
limited, the movement is slow, the character of the universe 
is essentially conservative. But at any rate conservatism 
is not the last word to be said about it. It does not 
go like a clock, completely manufactured, and once for all 
wound up at the beginning to mark a time fixed and pre- 
determined for it. It is slowly making itself, it is slowly 
winding itself up, it is slowly making its own time. It is 
a slow, tentative, perhaps in details a somewhat blundering 
process ; but it is real and creative ; the new successful 
effort is for ever issuing out of the old mistakes, and a 
slow advance is being laboriously recorded and continuously 
maintained. This figurative language, although perhaps 
somewhat highly coloured, is really no exaggeration. 
" Creativeness " is the key- word, and it is also the key 
position in the great battle which is now being fought out 
between the nineteenth-century and the twentieth-century 
conceptions of the nature and trend of the universe, between 
Mechanism as ordinarily understood and what is here called 
Holism. Those who wish to defend the old position of 
Mechanism (and they are still the great majority in the 
army of Science) will have to concentrate their forces at 
this point. If the concept of creativeness, of the emergent 
new in the Evolution of the universe, really wins through, 
Mechanism as a scientific and philosophical category will 
be reduced to very modest proportions. 

The creativeness of Evolution at all stages has indeed the 
most profound effect on our views of Nature and her order 
and on all our methods of explaining her processes. To 
illustrate this let us revert once more to the oft-quoted 
difference between a mere physical mixture and a chemical 


compound. The mixture is, like the compound, a structure, 
much looser, of course, than the compound, but still a 
structure of sorts. But the compound differs from it in 
being a radically different structure, a new structure has 
emerged in the compound, a creative moment has entered 
into the process which was not there before. And the result 
is a complete difference in all the pertinent phenomena of 
the two. Even our very categories of description have to 
undergo a corresponding transformation. If we tried 
to describe the properties and actions of a chemical com- 
pound on the same principles as those of a mechanical 
mixture, we would go grievously wrong, and the real facts 
would be hopelessly distorted. The creative moment which 
has entered into the chemical compound in its passage from 
a mere physical mixture, the new structure which has 
resulted from the change, requires new concepts and principles 
of description. And this is freely admitted by chemists 
and physicists alike. The case for new categories of descrip- 
tion becomes far stronger at the next creative advance, 
where chemical structure is transformed into organic struc- 
ture. In both cases new wholes are produced, and we 
may therefore say that Holism is at work ; in the organic 
structure the creative advance is admittedly far greater 
than in the chemical compound. The concentration 
and intensification of structure which we call the whole 
in the organism are comparatively far greater and higher 
than the similar phenomena in the chemical compound 
as compared to the mere mixture. Something indisputably 
new has been produced; there has been creation; a 
new structure has arisen which has its own categories 
of description; and to apply mere chemical and physical 
concepts of action and description to this new structure 
is to ignore the creative advance which has taken 
place and to confound two entirely different, however 
closely related, structures and stages of Evolution. The 
physico-chemical view and explanation of organism there- 
fore rest on a fundamental misconception and on a denial 
or disregard of the creative advance in natural Evolution. 


There is the physical description of the mixture; there is 
the chemical description of the compound; and there is 
what I call the holistic description of the organism, which 
recognises the qualitative newness and sui generis nature 
of the structure which bears the characters of what we call 
life. The apparent materials may even be the same in all 
three cases ; but the character and intensity of their union 
in each case varies in such a way that entirely different 
structures with entirely different characters result. There is 
a rising element of wholeness in all three structures, and the 
holistic character is by no means confined to the third or 
organic structure. But its wholeness is much more marked 
and pronounced than that of the other two; it is, in fact, 
the very type and exemplar of a whole; and a purely 
physico-chemical explanation of its nature and functions 
cannot possibly do justice to this unique holistic character. 
This is but another way of affirming the creative character 
of the advance from the mere physical mixture to the 
chemical structure, and still more in the advance from the 
chemical to the organic structure in Nature. The creative 
advance is the fact, to which our conceptual theories of 
explanation have to conform. The creativeness consists 
in the progressive advance in respect of the character of 
wholeness which distinguishes the three stages of structure ; 
and the advance is in a geometrical rather than an arith- 
metical progression, that is to say, the ratio of wholeness 
increases with the advance. The physical and chemical 
categories still apply, but they are not sufficient, and have to 
be supplemented by the holistic categories which correspond 
to and express the greater and qualitatively more intense 
wholeness which characterises the organism as distinguished 
from the mixture or the compound. 

Let me here point out that it is not all causation which 
is creative ; much of the causation in the universe is purely 
mechanical and produces nothing new. Only wholes are 
creative ; only the causality of wholes produces effects which 
are really new. Structure in fact and in Nature arises from 
pre-existing structures whether in the organic or inorganic 


domain. Omne vivum e vivo is a formula which applies to 
all wholes and not merely to organic wholes. Only wholes 
produce wholes, and only in wholes does the new emerge ; 
wholes form the pathway of creative reality; only the 
causality of wholes is creative of the new. 

This is so because of what I have already pointed out 
above when discussing how a whole transforms a " cause " 
or stimulus applied to it into something quite different from 
what it was before. If an external " cause " is applied to 
an organism or a living body it will become internalised and 
transformed, and will be experienced as a stimulus, which 
in its turn will be followed by a response. The response is 
not the mere mechanical effect of the cause, and this is due 
to the complete transformation which the latter has under- 
gone. In the moment which elapses between stimulus and 
response a miracle is performed; a vast series of organic 
changes is set going of which comparatively little is known 
as yet. The inorganic becomes organic, the alien stuff of 
the environment is recreated into the stuff of the living 
organism. The organic changes which take place are 
assumed to have their physical and chemical equivalents ; but 
even though that is so, they are much more than the mere 
physico-chemical tale they tell. The stimulus has been 
transformed and absorbed and become a series of states 
of the organism; the organism has made the stimulus 
its own, as it were. And as a result the response is not 
the mere passive effect of the stimulus, but is the free and 
spontaneous movement of the organism itself under the 
influence of the appropriate stimulus. The passive external 
stimulus has been recreated into an active, free response 
of the organism. Anything passing through the organic 
whole thereby becomes completely changed. Any action 
issuing from it has the stamp of the whole upon it. The 
procedure is transformative, synthetic, recreative, holistic, 
and the result is " new " in one degree or another. 

From this it will be seen that if the concept of causation 
is to be retained in connection with organic or psychical 
activities, it will have to be substantially recast. The 


resultant activity of an organism under a stimulus is never 
the effect of that stimulus, as it would be in the case of 
mechanical action, but always of the stimulus as trans- 
formed by the organism; the organism appears as the 
dominant element in the causal concept, and the stimulus 
appears in a minor role. The more active the state of the 
organism, and the more thorough its reaction to the stimulus, 
the less is the influence of the stimulus on the response, 
which appears as the free and almost original action of the 
organism. The organic response is often so great com- 
pared to the stimulus, it is so out of all proportion to it and 
so transcends it in every way, that the organism appears 
clearly as the real cause, and the stimulus merely as a 
minor condition or excitation. 

It is thus seen that the organism is a new system, with its 
own activities and laws and categories of action and descrip- 
tion. It is a new centre, with a large measure of inde- 
pendence of the environment. This does not mean that 
the environment does not influence it, but it means that 
the environment influences it only indirectly and after a 
more or less complete transformation and metabolism of 
such influence. Vis-d-vis the environment the organism is 
something apart and unique, something sui generis, which 
does not passively accept and reproduce the influence of the 
environment, but utilises and appropriates it for its own 
purposes and in its own ways, as if it were some superior 
arbiter and disposer of the whole situation. The concepts of 
dominion, of mastery, of creation which the orthodox view 
places at the beginning of things are now distributed and 
assigned to all organisms, whose inmost nature it is only 
possible to express through these concepts. In other words, 
organism is not so much an effect of external causes ; nor 
are its states and characters merely effects of external causes ; 
it is in a large measure its own cause causa sui and the 
cause of its own states and functions. External environ- 
mental influences are merely the rough material with which 
it works and builds up its own system. And in the act of 
building the material is itself more or less completely 


changed into the character of the structure built. I say 
" more or less," because this character of creative mastery 
and transformation which organism displays in respect of 
external influences and materials is itself of a progressive 
character. In the lower organisms there is much more of 
passive acceptance and response than in the higher; and 
the whole process of Evolution is largely a continuous growth 
towards organic independence and self -regulation ; in other 
words, towards wholeness. The concept of wholeness 
contains and explains all the distinguishing organic attributes 
in their various grades throughout the wide range of organic 

Thus it is that the creative element in Evolution, the 
emergent new, is associated with the nature and action of 
wholes, and is confined to them. Not only is the activity 
of wholes holistic and creative, as yet it is the only creative 
activity of which we have knowledge. 

From this discussion it is clear how the concept of Free- 
dom is rooted in that of the organic whole. The whole is 
free, the parts are bound : such would be a formula of 
metaphysics. For beyond the whole there is nothing ex- 
ternal to determine it, and it is therefore free ; while the parts 
are necessarily bound by their relation to the whole and 
to each other in the whole. But we are not concerned with 
metaphysical wholes, but with those of reality, such as 
organisms. And we have seen how the functioning of an 
organic whole releases it from the domination, the causation 
of the external, and conduces to its freedom. The external 
causation, the stimulus which operates on it ab extra, is 
transformed by its subtle metabolism into something of 
itself; otherness becomes self ness; the pressure of the 
external or the other is transformed into the action of itself. 
The organism is largely detached from its surroundings and 
centres in itself. Necessity is transformed into freedom. 
The causal chain of physics becomes the new badge of 
freedom. The whole, therefore, even in its most humble 
organic forms, lays the foundations of the new world of 
freedom. We can arrive at the same result by another 


process of reasoning, based on the creative activity of 
Holism. Under the physical system the effect equals the 
cause, and is therefore completely determined by the cause. 
Causa = effectum. But we have seen how this formula 
disappears before creative Holism ; how the effect comes to 
contain the new and therefore to transcend its cause. The 
element of newness, of novelty in the holistic order of the 
world, means a release from the complete bondage of matter 
and its causality and necessity. It means a certain latitude 
for expansion and growth. It widens the range of possi- 
bilities; the straight and narrow path of physics becomes 
the prospect which ultimately widens into the great horizons 
of life and mind. Freedom broadens out into a world of 
opportunities. The animal finds that it is no longer im- 
prisoned in its cell like the plant ; it begins to move about. 
Gradually it learns the great lessons of direction and self- 
direction. The great Experiment of life assumes ever- 
widening degrees of freedom, until finally at the human 
stage freedom takes conscious control and begins to 
create the free ethical world of the Spirit. With that 
development we shall deal at a later stage of this work. 
Here it must suffice to have pointed out the humble begin- 
nings of Freedom. And even at this stage it is important 
to bear in mind that the domain of life is largely distinguished 
from that of matter and energy by its greater degrees of 
freedom. Scientists speak of the degrees of freedom even 
in an inorganic situation. And by this they mean the 
element of contingency which seems inseparable even from 
the purely physical order. The causal chain of Nature, 
the necessity which characterises the procession of physical 
events, does not exclude elements of chance or contingency. 
An event may happen in this way or that way; there are 
alternatives between which only the actual fact can decide. 
To these possibilities or alternatives the phrase " degrees 
of freedom " is applied. But in the domain of life it acquires 
an added meaning, or rather, let me say, a real meaning. 
Life is not entirely bound, even in its most primitive forms. 
Hence its trials and experiments, its variations, its novelties 


and its creativeness, which become ever more accentuated 
in its progress. Evolution traces the grand line of escape 
from the prison of matter to the full freedom of the Spirit. 
It is clear that the beginnings of freedom are laid far back 
in the early dawn of life itself, if not earlier. 

The above discussion of unified organic functioning, or 
unity of action, causation, creation, and freedom will suffice to 
indicate how the whole as factor and concept involves a trans- 
formation of physical actions and categories. They have 
been selected as samples of holistic functions and categories 
and are not intended to be in any sense an exhaustive 
enumeration of such functions and categories. A full 
list would, for instance, include " individuality " and " pur- 
posiveness " as essential features, functions, and categories 
of wholes. They are, however, referred to in Chapter IX 
in connection with Mind as an organ of Holism. At this 
stage it is only necessary to make the briefest reference to 
them. Thus with regard to the character and category of 
individuality it is only necessary to point out here that 
individuality is distinctive of wholes. Wholes are not 
arbitrarily divisible and the divided parts are not arbitrarily 
interchangeable. Every whole has a real character, a 
unique identity, and an irreversible orientation which 
distinguishes it from everything else and is the very essence 
of individuality. And this character of individuality rises 
with the rise of wholes in the scale of Evolution, and acquires 
decisive importance at the ultimate level of human Per- 
sonality. Purposiveness, again, is a special form of that 
unified organic action which has already been discussed. 
It means a correlation and unification of actions towards 
an end, whether this is consciously conceived or apprehended 
or not. On the animal plane and especially on the psychical 
level of Evolution it is quite distinctive of wholes. In an 
exhaustive treatment of holistic characters and categories 
individuality and purposiveness would have no less impor- 
tant a place than those above discussed. 

Let us now pass on to consider organism as a centre of 
internal regulation, adjustment and co-ordination of its 


own functions and activities. The phenomena that meet 
us here are indeed most wonderful. No cunningly devised 
machine of human contrivance can rival or even approach 
in delicacy of co-ordination or fineness as well as complexity 
of adjustment the organic wholes we see in Nature. Pro- 
fessor Haldane has described the wonderful combination of 
processes which go to make up the physiology of breathing l 
a combination which is marvellous enough under normal 
conditions, but which becomes far more so when we see how 
curiously breathing adjusts itself to abnormal conditions, to 
situations artificially brought about, which it has probably 
never had to face in all time. No " experience " or here- 
ditary " memory " can guide it here; and yet it rises to 
the occasion every time, within a wonderfully wide range of 
adaptability and plasticity. Practically every major physio- 
logical function shows the same power of co-ordination of 
various organs and activities, and the same delicacy and 
ingenuity of adjustment to novel situations. Any one of 
the functional features involved would be a wonder in 
itself; but when the co-ordinated combination of all is 
studied, when, moreover, the great variety of adjustments 
of this combination to unusual situations is considered, the 
marvel becomes baffling to our human intelligence. The 
most delicate processes, involving vast numbers of co- 
operating factors, happen not clumsily or slowly, but most 
finely and as it were in less than the twinkling of an eye. 

What guides and controls such a complex physiological 
process? Intelligence such as we know it is clearly not 
equal to the task; nor have we any reason to ascribe 
intelligence to organic processes. The assumption of a 
vital force explains nothing, as our problem concerns some- 
thing far more subtle and directive than force. Again, 
to look upon it as a marvellous self-working mechanism 
does not meet the real situation, which is more than 
one of mechanism, however marvellous. The theory of 
Evolution presupposes an original start from simple 
beginnings, which have multiplied, evolved and become 

1 Organism and Environment, 1917. 


complex in the course of Evolution. The pure chance 
presupposed by Mechanists has never ruled the world. 
There has never been a blind sorting out of possibilities 
according to the laws of probability; and if there had 
been, the chances against the present organic situation 
in the world would have been infinite. Not thus has the 
new arisen and gone forward. The new has always arisen 
in the bosom of the old, and under its aegis and influence. 
Not blind chance or contingency but the existing state of 
affairs has always shaped the course and direction of Evolu- 
tion. The new arises from the old and largely at its prompt- 
ing, and thus in harmony with it. Its novelty is very small 
compared to its essential conservatism. Variation is infini- 
tesimal compared to Heredity. It is this fundamental 
character of unity, unitariness and wholeness as distinct 
from mechanical aggregation of parts which seems to me 
to explain the phenomena of organic regulation and co- 
ordination. Organisms, of course, contain a great deal of 
mechanism; the detailed processes and functions are 
largely carried out by what one might call organic mechan- 
isms, structures with particular functions assigned to them. 
But the unification of the entire system and its self-regulating 
character; its plasticity of co-ordination and adjustment 
under all the situations of the environment which it has to 
face and to which it has to adapt itself ; its creative move- 
ment in time, so different from what one would expect on 
the second law of thermodynamics; the unique facts of 
growth, restitution and reproduction, which not even a 
strained application of the mechanistic scheme would fit 
these are facts and features distinctive of wholes which 
Holism alone can properly justify and explain. 

It may be convenient if, before concluding this chapter, 
I give a summary of the various functions which are here 
assigned to Holism in the shaping of reality. 

(A) i. In the first place, Holism is a creative factor, 
and as such shows itself in the upbuilding and differentia- 
tion of organic structures and their functions. These may 
be modifications or variations or mutations. They may 


be ordinary specific differences such as explain the origin of 
different species. These differences may include new organs 
and structures, or merely the general complexifying of 
existing structures which makes organisms as a whole more 
complex. All these aspects of Holism are discussed in 
Chapter VIII. 

2. This creative Holism is, of course, responsible for 
the whole course of Evolution, inorganic as well as organic. 
All the great main types of existence are therefore due to 
it, such as the atom, molecule, cell, organism, the great 
groups of plant types, the great groups of animal types, 
and finally the human type. Creative Holism is thus 
responsible for all the great divisions of Science. The 
cursory discussion of these aspects of Holism is spread over 
various chapters. 

(B) i. In the second place, apart from the detailed 
structural and functional differentiations above referred 
to, Holism is a general organising, co-ordinating or regulating 
factor in organisms over which it exercises a measure of 
guidance, direction and control. The nature of this regu- 
lative or controlling activity is discussed in this chapter, 
and the difficulties it gives rise to in its relation to the 
body or the energy system generally are discussed in Chapters 
VII and X. 

2. This regulation and control is exercised over the 
structures and functions of organisms generally, but some- 
times special holistic organs are evolved, which seem 
specially destined to assist in the exercise of this regulation 
and control. Such special holistic organs are the ductless 
glands which pour regulative secretions into the general 
system, the nervous system, and especially the brain with 
its correlate mind. These and other holistic organs are 
special aids to Holism in its regulative activity. Various 
aspects of these holistic organs are discussed in different 

(C) In the third place, in order to express and explain 
these activities of Holism at the different grades of Evolu- 
tion and at the various levels of differentiation of types 


and structures, categories of the Whole or holistic categories 
are necessary, some of which have been discussed in this 
chapter and others are dealt with in other chapters. Thus 
arise the physical, chemical, organic, psychical, and personal 
categories, which are all expressive of holistic activity at 
its various levels and reducible to terms of Holism. 

Holism thus appears in this scheme as the fundamental 
activity of the universe from which all others are derived; 
and the concept of Holism is the ultimate category of 
description and explanation from which likewise all other 
categories are derived. Holism therefore constitutes the 
ultimate view-point from which to orientate our survey of 
all the various forms and departments of reality. 

(D) There is one more aspect of creative Holism which 
I must for the sake of completeness mention, although its 
exposition falls outside the plan of this work. We have 
seen that Holism is creative of all structures, inorganic as 
well as organic. Thus all the types of structure in the 
worlds of matter and life are its work. But more; as we 
proceed upward in the course of Evolution we find Holism 
the source of all values. Love, Beauty, Goodness, Truth : 
they are all of the whole; the whole is their source, and 
in the whole alone they find their last satisfying explanation. 
Holism not only prescribes the law in the world of struc- 
tures, forms and organisms; it is the very ground and 
principle of the ideal world of the spirit. It is in the 
sphere of spiritual values that Holism finds its clearest 
embodiment in fact, and its most decisive vindication as 
an ultimate category of explanation. Its creativeness will 
nowhere be found more fruitful than in that last and 
highest reach of its evolution. Here it would be premature 
to do more than merely refer to this aspect of creative 
Holism. The exposition of its creative activity in shaping 
the great Ideals of the Whole is, however, too large a task 
to be undertaken in this introductory work. 



Summary. The discussion in the last two chapters has disclosed 
a grading-up of such structures as can in any way be called holistic ; 
beginning with the physico-chemical structures, into which physical 
and chemical relations enter; passing on to bio-chemical structures 
or organisms, into which those relations plus something new, usually 
called life, enter; and culminating in psycho-physical structures, in 
which all three relations enter, together with the new elements of mind 
and personality. In this grading-up the earlier structures are not 
destroyed but become the basis of later, more evolved synthetic 
holistic structures; the character of wholeness increases with the 
series and the elements of newness, variation and creativeness 
become more marked. 

Mechanism is a type of structure where the working parts maintain 
their identity and produce their effects individually, so that the 
activity of the structure is, at least theoretically, the mathematical 
result of the individual activities of the parts. With the two 
concepts of Mechanism and Holism before us we can see how the 
natural wholes of the universe fall under both concepts. There is 
a measure of Mechanism everywhere, and there is a measure of 
Holism everywhere ; but the Holism gains on the Mechanism in the 
course of Evolution, it becomes more and more as Mechanism becomes 
less and less with the advance. Holism is the more fundamental 
activity, and we may therefore say that Mechanism is an earlier, 
cruder form of Holism; the more Holism there is in structure, the 
less there is of the mechanistic character, until finally in Mind and 
Personality the mechanistic concept ceases to be of any practical use. 

What is the relation between the earlier (mechanistic) and the 
later (holistic) elements in composite structures, such as bio-chemical 
and psycho -physical wholes ? How can the material and the im- 
material influence or act on each other? This is still one of the 
great unsolved problems of philosophy, and science finds it no less 
embarrassing. The tendency for science has as a rule been to look 
upon the earlier physico-chemical structures as dominant, and upon 
the later holistic elements of life and mind as essentially unreal or 
as having only an apparent reality. Science looks upon the physical 
realm as a closed system dependent only on physical laws, which 



leave no opening anywhere for the active intervention of non- 
material entities like life and mind. On this view the activity and 
causality of life and mind are therefore at bottom essentially illusory. 
On the other hand, if we have to be guided by our clear and unequi- 
vocal experience and consciousness, nothing can be more certain 
than that our human volition issues in active movements and external 
actions. Besides, if life and mind were merely ineffective illusions, 
how could they have arisen and grown in the struggle of existence ? 
While science denies reality to life and mind, the other side retort 
by erecting them into vital and mental forces with a substantiality 
of their own. Thus arises the counter-hypothesis of Vitalism. 
Both views as a matter of fact are one-sided and misleading; the 
mechanistic view by ignoring the essentially holistic element in organic 
or psychical wholes; the vitalistic view by misconceiving the vital 
or psychic element in such wholes. The fundamental mistake is 
the severance of essential elements in a whole and their hypostasis 
into independent interacting entities or substances. Thus body and 
mind wrongly come to be considered as two separate interacting 

In reply to mechanistic Science it can be shown that the holistic 
factors of life and mind do not interfere with the closed physical 
system, and that a proper understanding of the laws of Thermo- 
dynamics permits of the immanent activity of a factor of Selective- 
ness and Self-direction, such as life or mind, without any derogation 
from those laws. 

Again, in reply to the Vitalists, who invent Entelechy or some 
other substantive entity for the system, of life and mind, it can be 
shown that no such deus ex machina is necessary; that the funda- 
mental concept of Holism suffices to explain the creative, directive, 
controlling activity of organic and psychic wholes ; and that the 
attributes of life and mind are inherent in the advanced concept of 
wholes, and in organisms and humans as wholes. We thus get rid of 
the notion of separate interacting entities and view organisms and 
humans as wholes, which involve both the earlier mechanistic and 
the later holistic phases of Holism. As we have seen Mechanism to 
be but an earlier, cruder phase of Holism, the problem essentially 
disappears. A thorough grasp of the concept of wholes and its 
consistent application to organisms and humans are thus a solvent 
for the perennial Body-and-Mind problem. We thus envisage the 
physico-chemical structures of Nature as the beginnings or earlier 
phases of Holism, and " life " as a more developed phase of the same 
inner activity. Life is not a new agent, with the mission of interfering 
with the structures of matter ; it involves no disturbance of the prior 
structures on which it is based. Holism has only advanced one step 
further; there is a deeper structure, more selectiveness, more 
direction, more control, But the new is a creative continuation of 


the old and not a denial of or going back on it. Holism as an 
active creative process means the movement of the universe 
towards ever more and deeper wholeness. This is the essential 
process, and all organic and psychic activities and relations 
have to be understood as elements and forms of this process. No 
explanation is possible which ignores this active creative inner whole 
at the heart of all organic or psychic structures ; in the light of this 
whole all apparent contradictions tend to disappear. This point is 
further considered in Chapter X. 

The fact of Evolution shows that Holism determines the course 
and the character of the advance. Thus Holism is pulling all the 
evolving structures faintly but perceptibly in the direction of greater 
creative synthetic fullness of characters and meanings, in other 
words, towards more wholeness. The inner trend of the universe, 
registered in its very constitution, is directed away from the merely 
mechanical towards the holistic type as its immanent ideal. 

How Holism operates in organic Evolution will appear from the 
next chapter. 

AT various points in the preceding chapters I have 
appeared to contrast Holism with Mechanism and to treat 
them as opposed processes and concepts. We shall now 
have to consider their relations more closely, as a proper 
understanding of these relations will be found to underlie 
some of the greatest problems both of science and of 
thought. We shall see that Mechanism and Holism are 
not necessarily opposed ; that both ideas have their proper 
scope and sphere of usefulness, but that Holism is the more 
fundamental concept and in its most far-reaching reactions 
transforms, transcends and absorbs the concept of Mechan- 
ism. A proper view of their interactions and inter-relations 
and of the leading and more fundamental role of Holism 
in comparison with Mechanism is in my opinion important 
for science no less than for philosophy. 

Let me, even at the risk of reiteration, return to what 
has repeatedly been said before. For me the great problem 
of knowledge, indeed the great mystery of reality, is just 
this : How do elements or factors a and b come together, 
combine and coalesce to form a new unity or entity x different 
from both of them? To my mind this simple formula of 
synthesis sums up all the fundamental problems of matter 


and life and mind. The answer to this question will in 
some measure supply the key to all or most of our great 
problems. My answer has already been given ; it is in one 
word Holism. But it is necessary to show how the answer 
works in detail, and what its relations are to the current 
and popular view-points which still dominate our science 
and philosophy. Science and philosophy alike are vast 
structures, laboriously built up on the basis of certain 
fundamental concepts. The attempt I am making is to 
introduce into these elaborate systems a new basic concept, 
perhaps more fundamental than any of them. And it will 
be clear that such an attempt must be a most difficult and 
hazardous one; it involves far-reaching readjustments of 
settled points of view, the reopening of questions long looked 
upon as answered and done with, the envisaging of many 
old problems from a new and novel point of view. To insert 
the spear-point of the new concept into these vast closed 
settled systems may at first sight appear a revolutionary, an 
iconoclastic procedure. But I hope I shall be able to show 
that this is not really so, that at any rate to begin with the 
concept of Holism will fit constructively into the work of 
the past, whatever its ultimate effects may be in the reshaping 
of these systems on the new basis; that in relation to the 
old concepts it appears in the field not as an enemy but as a 
friend and ally in the great battle of knowledge, and that 
it will help materially in the solution of problems which are 
practically insoluble on the lines of the old concepts. The 
concept of Holism is brought forward as a reinforcement at 
a critical point in the battle, in the hope that it will help to 
bring victory. But I do not conceal the further hope that 
in its ulterior effects it will lead to a recasting of much of the 
situation of knowledge as at present envisaged, and will 
render obsolete and replace much that is at present con- 
sidered valuable if not fundamental both in science and 

How then does the concept of Holism fit into that of 
Mechanism without directly negativing it, but with the ulti- 
mate effect of transforming and transcending it? Let us 


return to consider our formula once more from this point 
of view. We have to consider how elements or entities 
a and b produce the new unity or entity % different from 
both; and how this involves the concepts of Holism and 
Mechanism. For the sake of simplicity I take as an illustra- 
tion for discussion the case where only two elements enter 
into the new entity, although usually the number of com- 
ponent elements is much larger; the illustration will cover 
all cases irrespective of the actual number of such elements. 
I also assume that the concept of Holism has been suffi- 
ciently defined and explained in the two preceding chapters 
to make its relation to the concept of Mechanism clear 
without further definition. I need only repeat that the 
concept of Mechanism involves a system or combination of 
parts in relation to each other, of such a character that 
these parts do not lose their identity or substantial independ- 
ence in the combined role they play in the system. The 
system consists of the parts maintained in their identity, 
and its action is the resultant of the independent activities 
of all these parts. The parts remain, and the activity of the 
system is the mathematical summation of their activities. 
That is in essence the idea of Mechanism a system or 
combination whose action can be mathematically calculated 
from those of its component parts. 

Now let us test the application of the concepts of Holism 
and Mechanism to possible combinations or systems into 
which the elements or parts a and b enter as components. 
What are these systems in Nature of which we have know- 
ledge, and how do they exemplify our two concepts? We 
find the following possible situations : 

(i) Elements a and b are material elements in the loosest 
possible mixture without any active relation to each other ; 
this is the case of a mere mechanical mixture, in which there 
is no combination of any sort whatever and nothing new 
arises, and to which neither of our two concepts can be 
usefully applied. The mixture is arbitrary or mechanical 
in the vaguest sense, but is not and cannot be called a 
mechanism, and it is the negation of the idea of a whole. 


Mere juxtaposition in space and time is the only description 
which could be applied to such a situation, which must 
necessarily be a rare one in Nature. 

(2) Elements a and b are material elements in active 
physical relation to each other in the combination or system, 
and this relation affects the characters of the combination. 
The relation may be one of gravity or electricity or magnetism 
or any other of the forces by which matter acts on matter. 
In such a case the resultant system is physical, and may be 
properly called a mechanism. There is combination of 
parts, which do not lose their identity, and whose individual 
actions are summed up and expressed in the action of the 
system. The ordinary physical categories apply to such a 

(3) Elements a and b are material elements which enter 
into chemical relation to each other, and without losing 
their identity form a system which is in substance new and 
different from the component elements. This is a chemical 
combination of a substantially different character from the 
physical combination mentioned under (2), which calls for 
other categories of explanation besides the purely physical 
ones. As the parts still retain their identity and individual 
action, the concept of Mechanism applies to their combina- 
tion; but it is evidently a different kind of mechanism in 
which a higher degree and intensity of union of the parts 
are displayed which affect the character and nature of the 
resultant entity x. It is, of course, true that the New 
Physics is rapidly assimilating chemical categories of 
explanation to physical categories, but a real difference in 
the results remains; in character a chemical mechanism is 
substantially different from a mere physical mechanism, 
although ultimately the underlying forces of union may be 
proved to be the same in both cases. Material substances 
in Nature arise from the combination of both forms of union 
or synthesis; hence all material substances are properly 
called physico-chemical mechanisms. 

(4) Elements a and b enter into a combination which 
transforms one or both of them so completely that its or 


their identity is lost and irrecoverable ; the resultant entity % 
cannot be explained as the result of their separate and 
individual influences and activities; and the merger of 
elements is far more complete than in the preceding case (3) . 
If this were a complete statement of the facts the concept 
of Mechanism would not apply here, and it would be a case 
of Holism pure and simple. But as a matter of fact the 
energy contents of the elements appear to be at any rate 
quantitatively reproduced in the new entity x ; and besides, 
x, in so far as it is a material system, still seems to conform to 
a mechanistic type and arrangement of parts. In both 
these respects, therefore, the concept of Mechanism may 
still be partly applied to x. But A: is a mechanism of an 
entirely new type, quite unlike the preceding case (3). It is 
called a bio-chemical mechanism. But it is a mechanism 
only in certain respects, and to a limited extent, and of a novel 
character which necessitates new categories of action and 
explanation. Beyond that it ceases to be a mechanism and 
appears to conform to the idea of Holism in all other respects. 
This is the case where cell a takes in food b, which it trans- 
forms into its own system according to a metabolism which 
differs in material respects from the ordinary mechanical 
phenomena of physics and chemistry. 1 This is also the case 
where cell a unites with cell b to form a new entity, in which 
both a and b disappear finally and irrecoverably, and whose 
character and behaviour cannot be traced mathematically or 
mechanically to those of a and b. The cases falling under 
(4) therefore display a mixture of Mechanism and Holism, 
the relations of which it remains for us to study in this 
chapter. They form the province of life, and at one end of 
the vast ladder of life they are much more mechanistic and 
at the other much more holistic in character. They are the 
bio-chemical wholes which we shall discuss just now. 

(5) The new entity x arising under (4) as a mixed 
mechanistic-holistic type enters into combination with a new 
factor of an immaterial psychic character, called Mind ; and 
this, the human type, effects a complete merger of the 

1 See p. 68. 


biological and psychic elements, with an interaction so close 
and intimate that the psychic element can only be properly 
looked upon as an outgrowth or development of the bio- 
logical characters. In other words, the holistic element 
which entered into % at stage (4) now becomes inextricably 
blended with another even more pronouncedly holistic 
element; and the result is a still further approximation to 
the full holistic type. In fact man is only mechanistic in 
respect of his physical bodily organism ; the true personality 
which arises from the blending of the biological and psychic 
elements into one unique whole is the highest and fullest 
expression of Holism which Nature has yet realised. If we 
apply mechanical characters to man's mental or spiritual 
world, that is only by way of analogy from lower forms of 
experience, and not because his spiritual structure is in any 
way of a mechanistic type. Man is based on both worlds ; 
while he has one foot planted on the mechanistic plane, his 
other is firmly planted on the holistic plane, with a distinct 
lean-over towards the latter. Essentially he is a spiritual 
and holistic being, not a mechanistic type, with sui generis 
categories of the mental and ethical orders. But his physio- 
logical basis gives him partly a mechanistic character. He 
is thus what is called a psycho-physical whole. This will be 
more fully elaborated in its proper connection later on in 
this work. 1 

This rough summary of the main phases and stages of 
synthetic development through which inorganic and organic 
Evolution has passed there are, of course, innumerable 
subordinate phases which we need not consider here will 
suffice to make clear two points which I wish to emphasise : 

In the first place, Mechanism as applied to types of evolu- 
tion is an elastic concept, capable of much refinement in 
its application to ever higher forms and types. The mechan- 
ism envisaged from the point of view of chemistry is different 
from that of physics, while again the mechanism of the cell 
and of simple organisms is a vastly different affair from that 
of chemistry, and even so is stretched to a limit beyond 

1 See Chapter X. 


which it ceases in many respects legitimately to apply. 
We have different levels of Mechanism, with their appro- 
priate concepts and categories of structure and function. 
When we reach the human stage in its full development in 
personality, we pass beyond the limits of all possible 
mechanistic concepts and categories and we find ourselves in 
the domain of Holism. Mechanism is thus a matter of degree. 

In the second place, Holism is also a matter of degree. It 
begins, as we have seen, as structure ; and in its earlier phases 
as structure it is scarcely different from Mechanism. Indeed 
we may look upon Mechanism as incipient Holism, as a crude 
early phase of Holism. In proportion as Holism realises 
its inwardness more fully and clearly in the development of 
any structure; in proportion as its inward unity and 
synthesis replace the separateness and externality of the 
parts, Mechanism makes way for Holism in the fuller sense. 
But its realisation is a matter of degree, and there will 
probably always remain some residuary feature of Mechanism, 
which will to some small extent justify the resort to mechan- 
istic concepts and categories, even where the most developed 
and refined Holism is concerned. 

It follows from the above that science is not at fault when 
for heuristic purposes it applies mechanistic methods and 
concepts to either the inorganic or the biological sciences. 
Up to a certain point the resort to such methods and con- 
cepts is fully justified, and their clearness and narrowing of 
issues are especially useful for purposes of analysis and 
research. It is only when the larger holistic considerations 
behind the mechanisms are ignored, or when mechanistic 
concepts are pressed too far in their application to essentially 
holistic structures and functions, that the process becomes 
harmful and misleading. 

It will be noticed that in the synthetic grading-up of the 
Mechanistic-Holistic process of Evolution the lower unit 
always becomes the basis of the next higher unit, becomes as 
it were the stepping-stone to the next stage. Thus the earlier 
simpler structure of the atom becomes the unit for the mole- 
cule ; the molecule for the crystal ; the complex of molecules 


for the colloid and the cell ; the complex of cells for the higher 
organism; while the still more complex groups of cells 
become the units for the higher psychic or personal structures. 
Thus stated, the process seems to be merely a regular 
mechanical, additive series based on the mixture of previous 
elements. But such a conclusion would be most misleading. 
The process is not mechanical or additive but essentially 
creative; at each stage something new arises from the 
mixture, interaction and fusion of the component elements. 
But while this newness, this creative novelty arises every- 
where, it is at two stages in particular that something sui 
generis and wholly different in kind and nature arises from the 
union of the pre-existing elements ; those are the stages where 
so-called life and mind appear ; the stages where bio-chemical 
and psycho-physical wholes make their appearance. These 
are the two great saltus or mutations in Evolution ; and it is 
in connection with them that the great problems of life and 
mind arise. They are the structures in Nature which do not 
exemplify pure Mechanism on the one hand or pure Holism 
on the other ; they are double structures apparently exempli- 
fying both at the same time and, what is worse, in a some- 
what disharmonious manner. The attempt to harmonise 
them, to smooth away their discrepancies and to reconcile 
the contradictory results to which they lead, has taxed 
the resources of our science and philosophy to the utmost ; 
nor can it be said that the results hitherto attained are in 
any sense satisfactory. But that should never discourage 
us from renewing the search for solutions which is given by 
the very nature of the human spirit. 

Now it seems to me that it can be shown that the problems, 
difficulties and contradictions which arise in connection 
with these bio-chemical and psycho-physical wholes are due 
to fundamental misconceptions, and that the application of 
the category of Holism to living bodies and human per- 
sonalities will transform the situation and help towards a 
solution of the apparent contradictions. Let me broadly 
state the problem as it presents itself from the point of view 
of physical science and of human sciences respectively. 


Now natural science looks upon the physico-chemical order, 
upon physical nature, as it is commonly understood, as a 
closed system, complete in itself. The chain of physical 
causation is complete, and there is no need or place for any- 
thing of a non-physical character. There is a complete 
system of equations as between the past and the future. 
Effect equals cause ; and there is no necessity or place for any 
tertium quid. Necessity and determination characterise the 
order of Nature, the laws of thermodynamics supply a test of 
its working character. Where then do life and mind come in ? 
What are their function and their relation to this physical 
order? What difference can they make to this complete, 
closed, self-sufficing system ? If they have any effect, it can 
only be by interfering with the inevitable chain of physical 
causation and thus breaking the laws of energy. If life or 
will or mind has any practical effect, that would mean an 
interference with physical causes, with the fixed and deter- 
mined energy equations. But no such interference can be 
detected in any direction ; the causal physical chain remains 
unbroken; the laws of energy are unalterable. We are 
therefore forced to the conclusion that life and mind have 
no real effect and are of no avail in the world. If they were, 
the fundamental laws of Nature would be upset. Such is 
the view-point of physical science. 

But, on the other hand, we are just as firmly persuaded 
by the most clear and unequivocal deliverances of our 
consciousness that we can choose, that we can direct our 
attention and action to definite purposes; that our willing 
is effective ; that we can will to perform an act, and perform 
it accordingly ; that our bodily organs respond to the act of 
will in spite of all the energy equations ; that within limits 
we can do what we will to do. Unless our consciousness 
and our senses quite deceive us, this seems to be as plain and 
self-evident as anything in our experience. And thus we 
are landed in self-contradictions. On the one hand, the 
unbreakable chain of natural causation and the laws of 
energy ; on the other, our indubitable consciousness of the 
effectiveness of our power of free self-directed action. How 


is the contradiction to be overcome ? We are not concerned 
with the hoary old philosophical conundrum of free-will, 
but the issue is the very live and real one of the fundamental 
veracity of our clear conscious experience. If in the last 
resort we cannot believe our consciousness and senses, we 
had better give up the problem of knowledge altogether. 

In this dilemma it seems to me that only one course 
remains open for us, and that is to accept the direct deliver- 
ance of our senses at its face value. If we cannot trust our 
consciousness when it produces clear, direct and immediate 
testimony to our power of self-direction and action, how 
can we rely on it when it proceeds by way of inference to 
build up a vast construction such as the universal causality 
or closed system of Nature? If we cannot trust our 
experience where it is perfectly clear and unequivocal, it 
is useless to attempt to proceed any further in our search 
for truth. But then the question at once arises, how our 
minds can act on Nature without breaking the causal chain 
of Nature. How is the link of Mind inserted into that 
closed chain? It is unnecessary to discuss at length the 
answers which philosophers and scientists have attempted 
in reply to these questions. Science on the whole tends to 
accept the physical view of natural necessity and to look 
upon mind as ineffective, as an epiphenomenon which does 
not avail to alter the course of Nature. It is forced to this 
view in spite of the difficulty which thereby arises of explain- 
ing how this useless and ineffective organ of mind could 
have arisen in the grim struggle for existence ; what biological 
function it performs and what survival or other value it 
possesses. But that question need not detain us here. 
Nor need we consider the theories of psycho-physical 
parallelism and pre-established harmony and such like, to 
which philosophers have been driven in their distress in 
order to explain the apparent miracle of the adjusted 
co-working of body and mind. There is no doubt that 
none of these views can be looked upon as satisfactory. 1 
And the necessity remains for further exploration. Instead 

1 They are summarily reviewed in Chapter X. 


of rummaging in the scrap-heap of philosophy, let us rather 
explore some new way out amid these historic problems 
and difficulties of thought. Perhaps our basic categories 
have been faulty or inadequate; perhaps the facts are all 
right, and it is only our way of envisaging them, our view- 
points and fundamental concepts, that play us false. The 
difficulties may be of our own making, and should therefore 
be of our own un-making and solving. Anybody who has 
carefully followed our account of Holism in the two pre- 
ceding chapters will at once appreciate the line of thought 
which it naturally suggests as the way out of these diffi- 
culties. The radical mistake made by both science and 
popular opinion is the severance of an indivisible whole 
into two interacting entities or substances, the view of life 
and mind as separate entities from the body. Life and 
mind are not new entities which interact with the physico- 
chemical entities or structures. It is the assumption of 
these entities and of their interaction with physico-chemical 
entities of a different order which produces the contradic- 
tions for thought and the problems for experience. The 
assumption of these entities is based on a false view of 
reality; it leads again to an assumed interaction which 
does not exist in fact. Between them these two assump- 
tions distort our whole perspective in experience and conjure 
up for thought a number of contradictions which experience 
shows not to exist in fact. Thought fails to understand 
how mind and body interact in a human person; and yet 
we see the phenomenon before our eyes all the time. 
Thought fails to understand how the immaterial entity or 
factor of life can influence a physico-chemical structure which 
obeys simply and solely the laws of energy. And yet we 
see the phenomenon in a living organism all the time before 
our eyes. It seems inevitable that our experience must be 
right and our categories of thought must be wrong or 
inadequate, and that the insoluble puzzles which arise 
must be due to a misreading of the facts. But, I shall 
be answered, if life and mind are not real substances 
and do not exist in fact, we are back again in the old 


crude, crass materialism, and the Evolution of which life 
and mind are the main products and organs becomes a 
mere hallucination. No, I reply, it is not the reality of 
life and mind that is denied, but their construction as 
independent entities of a character and kind to interact with 
other entities. It is the false constructions of life and 
mind and their erection into independent entities which are 
the source of the trouble and ought to be demolished. A 
true view of the facts will not only do justice to life and 
mind, but will remove the problem which a false view has 
artificially created. And Holism is brought forward as a 
concept, a category, and an activity which reproduces 
reality and renders the facts intelligible without distortion 
or contradiction. Current views of life and mind are wrong; 
and it is partly to correct these errors that the wide concept 
of Holism, which includes, underlies and transcends them 
both, is introduced. Our views of immaterial things have 
been in process of evolution for thousands of years, and 
the process is far from complete yet. Remember the view 
of the soul, held by the Homeric Greeks, as a pale copy of 
the body ; and indeed the present popular notion of ghosts 
scarcely yet differs from this view. Remember the con- 
troversy among the early Christians, of which there is an 
echo in St. Paul's great chapter in the Epistle to the 
Corinthians (i Cor. xv. 35-50) whether it is the corporeal 
body or a spiritual body corresponding to it which would 
be raised to immortality. We still construe life, mind and 
the soul as quasi-material substances according to physical 
analogies or material categories. Let anybody sit down 
and try to form for himself an idea of the soul's dis- 
embodied existence, and he will convince himself how 
difficult it is to get away from physical analogies, from the 
pale copies of earthly existences, not very much different 
from the shades which wander through the cold Homeric 
Hades. We conceive spiritual things very much on the 
lines of material things ; though conceived as on different 
planes they are not placed too far apart, nor are they too 
different from each other to be able to act on each other 


and influence each other. It is these conceptions of life 
and mind as semi-physical entities, reminiscent and redolent 
of the past, which at bottom underlie many of the great 
problems of thought. We have really outgrown them; 
and in a sense they survive as anachronisms and disturbing 
factors in a world which in most other respects has made 
the most revolutionary advances in knowledge. They 
should be reformed and brought into line with the advanced 
front which is at present held on the battle-field of science. 

This vague, popular, ghost-like concept of life is stereo- 
typed and rendered definite by the scientific concept of 
Vitalism; for our purpose we may take the two as 
equivalent. Now what is Vitalism ? It is nothing but a 
pale copy of physical force. According to the Vitalists or 
the Vitalistic hypothesis, a living body is conceived as a 
material system in which the physico-chemical forces are 
supplemented by a new force, not of the same character 
as they, but still sufficiently like them to act on them and 
to be acted on by them. The Vitalistic hypothesis is right 
in so far as it considers physico-chemical agencies, con- 
siderations and categories as insufficient to explain the 
phenomena of living bodies. But it is wrong when it 
proceeds to assume the existence and the interaction with 
them of a new so-called vital force, which may or may not 
affect their quantitative relations, which may or may not 
quantitatively add to or subtract from them, but which 
somehow has the power to supplement them and to inter- 
act with them on their own level, so to say. This 
assumption is a misreading of the facts. A living organism 
appears to have the power to direct its energies to some 
definite end, and it will make all sorts of experiments, of 
trial-and-error co-ordinations of its bodily movements, until 
it successfully achieves that end. The specific power of 
directing its energies to certain definite ends or objects or 
with a certain measure of purpose seems to be characteristic 
of all living things from the lowest to the highest. This 
capacity of direction may be conscious or unconscious; it 
may be reflex or instinctive or deliberate and intentional; 


but as a phenomenon and a fact of universal observation 
it is beyond dispute. It is the explanation of the pheno- 
menon and fact which is in dispute as well as its relation 
to the physical-energy system which it seems to influence 
or direct. And Vitalism is a theory which attributes this 
power of inner direction or control to a new sort of force 
which distinguishes living from non-living bodies. It is, 
of course, true that with many of the older biologists Vitalism 
was more a standpoint than a theory; more an attitude of 
protest against the supposed adequacy and sufficiency of 
mechanistic or physico-chemical explanation of living 
bodies than a definite assumption of a new vital force. 
They realised that there was something more in the living 
organism than what could be accounted for on the action 
of purely physical and chemical forces. In this standpoint 
they were no doubt right; and in this vague negative 
sense there is not only no harm, but positive value in the 
Vitalistic standpoint. But with some of the more recent 
biologists the Vitalistic standpoint has crystallised into a 
definite hypothesis which assumes a specific life-force. And 
it is against this hypothesis that our argument will be 

It follows from what has already been said that the very 
conception of such a " force " is an anachronism, an assimi- 
lation of the concept of life to ideas and view-points which 
are or should be obsolete. It is a question whether the 
concept of force has any validity at all in physics ; whether 
the dynamical notion of force is more than a mere mathe- 
matical notation or terminology with nothing in physical 
reality behind it. There is a tendency among physicists to 
discard the idea of force as unnecessary and misleading and 
to restrict themselves to the concept of energy. Whether 
they are right or not, it is at any rate clear that the idea 
of force can only have an application, if it has any at all, 
in the material physico-chemical order. When it is extended 
to the province of life, it becomes illegitimate and only 
serves to materialise what is in its essence non-material 
and spiritual. The concept of life is already deeply tainted 


in this and other ways ; and that is one of the reasons why 
I have proposed for purposes of scientific thought and 
reasoning to discard this vague and abused term, and to 
substitute instead the notion of Holism, which can at any 
rate be made clear and definite, and is not vitiated by 
popular associations and accretions. The Vitalistic hypo- 
thesis moves in the opposite direction ; by constituting a life- 
force somewhat on the analogy of physico-chemical forces, it 
tends to materialise life, to hypostatise it into a definite 
entity, and in this form to set it over against the material 
body in which it has its seat. Not only is life constituted into 
an entity interacting with other material entities, but its 
non-material, spiritual character is reduced to the level of 
a force among other forces, different from them indeed, but 
not so different as not to influence them or to be influenced 
by them. Life as Vitalism or vital force is considered a 
real entity, and its relations with the rest of the living 
organism become the source of serious difficulties and 

I have above briefly stated the naturalistic scheme of 
science and its sharp opposition to and contradictions of the 
claims of life and mind as ordinarily understood. That 
opposition and those contradictions arise from fundamental 
misconceptions which have their origins in the past in the 
naive dualism of our ordinary views of life and mind. Body- 
and-soul is the model or scheme on which both thought and 
science are based. There is an anima dwelling in a corpus, 
one entity living in close symbiosis with another, and the two 
profoundly influencing each other. As Descartes formulated 
it, there is the res cogitans and the res extensa ; there are two 
distinct separate res or entities, and the difficulties and 
contradictions arise from their mutual assumed interaction. 
The theory of Vitalism or the vital force seems simply to 
repeat and to stereotype this dualism. But if we wish 
to overcome these difficulties and contradictions we have 
to probe more deeply below these popular views and to 
resolve the apparent dualism by showing the underlying 
unity and harmony. 


I shall put the case from the Holistic point of view as 
follows : I am going to show that selection and direction, 
which are inherent in life and mind, are pervasive holistic 
characters which appear in matter already, evolve from it, 
and grow to maturity in life and mind. These characters 
show no opposition or antagonism to the system of matter, 
but co-exist with and interpenetrate it as higher phases of 
itself, so to speak. They tolerate the laws of matter and 
discharge their functions without interfering with these laws. 
In other words, the action of life and mind is consistent with 
the principles of energy. Now for my argument. 

" Selectiveness," as was pointed out in Chapter III, 
seems an inherent and fundamental property of matter. 
Electro-magnetism is a striking instance of that pheno- 
menon ; so is the very constitution of matter, whose ultimate 
forms of structure depend on inherent affinities and selec- 
tivities of still smaller structures or units. So is the 
behaviour of matter in the colloidal state. In the selective- 
ness of matter we seem to meet with an ultimate property 
for which no accounting on further more ultimate grounds 
is possible. 

Now selectiveness is likewise the fundamental property 
of all organism; it is indeed the most primitive property 
of life. Perhaps it is the very point where the organic and 
inorganic were still one and began to diverge. A cell shows 
selective power or selectivity in all its processes, such as 
the assimilation of its food and the rejection of what is 
not suitable for its nourishment. An organism shows this 
selective power in all its movements as well as in its nutri- 
tion. There is a selection of ends and an adjustment of 
its movements to the attainment of those ends. If the 
adjustment is wrong, if mistaken or abortive movements 
are made, the experiment is repeated until the object is 
attained the food is reached, the danger is avoided, or 
the enemy is routed. This primitive power of selection or 
selectivity is not yet choice or will as seen in the higher 
phases of organic development, but it is the tap-root 
of choice or will. One form of this selective power is 


self-direction, which is equally characteristic of organisms. 
Life has a power of self-direction, of selecting to go in one 
direction rather than in another, of taking the path which 
leads to the attainment of its unconscious or consciously 
realised object. This power of self-direction is clearly only 
a particular form or species of the more general power of 

It is not difficult to see that this selectivity is an 
inherently holistic attribute or quality. A natural whole 
as a small limited centre of unity has a definite structure 
which necessarily limits its functioning to certain ways or 
modes and no others. All possibilities are not open to it; 
it has only more or less limited degrees of freedom for its 
activities; it has to confine itself to these and implicitly 
to reject all others. Anticipating later stages of develop- 
ment, one may say that its choice is limited; in other 
words, selective action is essential for it. What is perfectly 
clear at later, more mature phases of Evolution already 
exists in undeveloped immature form in the most primitive 
organisms. There is a primitive stage of organic function- 
ing when concepts like will, choice or purpose are clearly 
not yet applicable, but their root already exists in a sort 
of organic selectivity or power of self-direction and self- 
orientation. This primitive organic power of selection is 
probably not far removed from the inorganic property 
which I have called by the same name. 

Let us next consider the most universal generalisations 
or laws of matter and energy and especially how they 
are affected by the selective and directive power of 
life and mind. I refer to the two laws of Thermo- 
dynamics, the first of which affirms the universal principle 
of conservation or constancy of the amount of energy 
in a closed physical system; while the second affirms 
the universal principle of the dissipation or degradation of 
energy. It is these two supreme generalisations which 
seem to come into irreconcilable conflict with the principles 
and properties of life and mind, and therefore call for a 
careful analysis. Now when bodies and souls (including 


life and mind) are taken as separate entities in interaction 
with each other, the simplest way of expressing the observed 
facts is to say that life or mind has a directive power over 
the body. It was Descartes who first suggested that mind 
might have the power (to use the language of later scientific 
developments) of directing the forces or energies in a body 
without affecting their amount, and therefore without a 
breach of the first law of Thermodynamics. According to 
this view life or mind in an organism would direct the 
energies of the body without either creating or destroying 
any of these energies. We have already seen that this 
power of self-direction is characteristic of life; and the 
suggestion was that the exercise of this power, while not 
interfering with the laws of matter, would explain the 
influence of life or mind over the body. Leibniz, however, 
pointed out in answer to Descartes that force (as energy 
was then called) is not only quantitative but also directional 
in character. And the second law of motion according to 
Newton made this perfectly clear. The direction in which 
a force is acting can only be altered by another force, and 
this change of direction would therefore involve an expendi- 
ture of force or energy. If, therefore, the mind has a 
directive influence over the body, it can exercise this only 
by way of adding to or subtracting from the energy of the 
body considered as a closed system, and would therefore be 
in conflict with the first law of Thermodynamics. Now 
in the body as a closed system experiment or observation 
has never yet shown any such addition or subtraction of 
energy. The energy put into a living body by way of food, 
heat or otherwise is always, within the limits of error, 
equalled by the energy of the work done, the heat pro- 
duced, and the waste products thrown off. As an energy 
system the living body is unaffected by life or mind or any 
other factor of a non-physical character. There can, there- 
fore, be no such direction of the energy of a living organism 
by life or mind as is assumed ; and if there were, the effect 
would at once be detected in an alteration of the amount 
of energy in the body. The first law of Thermodynamics, 


therefore, seems to negative this assumed power of direction 
of life or mind over the body, and seems to be fatal to any 
view of directive interaction between the two. Either the 
first law must be given up, or life and mind are nullities : 
such are the fatal horns of the dilemma on which we are 
impaled. But the surrender of the first law is not to be 
thought of. Although not exactly proved in a rigorous 
mathematical sense, it is a norm of science which works 
successfully in practice and which has never been known 
to be contradicted by any actual observations. It may be 
that in view of the recent discoveries of the New Physics, 
which associates the concepts of energy and mass very 
closely, the law may have to be expanded so as to 
include both the energy and mass of any closed system. 
But the surrender of the law would bring the whole 
structure of science toppling down. Nor, on the other 
hand, is the nullity of life or mind for a moment to be 
conceded. As I have already pointed out, the sense of 
effective choice, willing and self-direction is the clearest, 
most indubitable deliverance of consciousness we have, and 
its denial must necessarily destroy the very foundations on 
which experience and knowledge are built. Besides, if Life 
and Mind are nullities, then the Evolution which produced 
them must be a farce; but this is totally inadmissible. A 
way out of this dilemma must therefore be found. But let 
us first look at the second law of Thermodynamics. 

The second law affirms the principle of the universal 
dissipation or degradation of energy. It likens energy to 
water; as water constantly tends to run down from a 
higher to a lower level, so the potential of energy constantly 
tends to run down, and the energy tends to lose its efficiency 
and availability. While the energy of a closed system 
therefore remains constant in amount, it changes in char- 
acter, it becomes dissipated or degraded and less efficient 
and useful. And this principle is apparently of universal 
application in the physical world. When any phenomenon 
seems to contradict it, that phenomenon will in the end be 
found to be based on faulty observation. 


But living bodies seem to contradict it. In a living body 
the potentials of energy and efficiency are rising instead of 
falling. In living bodies complex substances are for ever 
being built up with a high energy efficiency ; and the break- 
ing down of these substances in the processes of life supplies 
the energy which the living body requires for its proper 
functioning. These complex chemical compounds with high 
energy efficiency have been called the high explosives which 
are necessary for the battle of life. And it is the essential 
function of living bodies through their subtle metabolism 
to manufacture these high explosives whose breaking down 
liberates the energy which life needs for its functions and 
processes. The process of organic Evolution marks a con- 
tinuous rise in the complexity of the organic substances 
produced and the level of the energy potentials reached. 
Living bodies and Evolution generally, therefore, seem to 
run counter to the stream of natural tendency as expressed 
in the second law of Thermodynamics. The systems of 
life and mind seem to be in contradiction to both the great 
principles of physical science. Is a reconciliation possible ? 

Clerk-Maxwell, one of the heroic figures of nineteenth- 
century physics, was the first to suggest an idea which may 
open up a possible clue to the solution of the problem. 
He pointed out that the laws of energy were statistical in 
character ; they regarded bodies, systems and their energies 
en masse, and their principles apply to these energies 
taken statistically and on an average. When, therefore, the 
energy of a physical system is spoken of, the average of 
its particular energies considered together and as a whole 
is referred to. In this sense, for instance, the principle of 
the degradation of energy held true, but in no other sense. 
And he illustrated his meaning by taking as an instance 
a volume of gas with a certain ascertainable total kinetic 
energy. In this volume the molecules of the gas would 
have different energies according to their rates of motion. 
In accordance with the formula E = \mv*, the energy of 
a particle is proportional to the square of its velocity. Now 
some molecules would be pushed forward by the impact of 


other molecules in their line of motion and would therefore 
have their motion accelerated; others, again, would suffer 
impacts contrary to their line of motion and would be 
slowed down. And, as a fact, the molecules constituting 
the volume of gas would have all sorts and rates of motion 
and consequent differences of energy. Now if, without 
introducing any additional energy into such a system, 
some sifting and sorting out and grading of the different 
molecules according to their velocities could take place, we 
could have an assortment of molecules with a higher energy 
than the average of the gas, while the balance would have 
an energy below the average. In other words, by sorting 
out instead of merely averaging we could have bodies with 
a higher energy potential or efficiency than the average of 
the mass from which they have been separated or segre- 
gated. And this higher energy potential would not be due 
to the imparting of any additional energy from the outside. 
Clerk-Maxwell imagined some demon manipulating an 
aperture inside the volume of gas to effect this sorting and 
grading, and thus producing a result in apparent conflict 
with the principle of the second law, which affirms the 
constant degradation of energy. His point was to make 
clear that the second law referred merely to a statistical 
average and was correct only in that limited sense. 

But it is obvious that his limitation of the law has a 
far-reaching significance, and his illustration points the way 
to the reconciliation of the systems of life and mind with 
that of physical energy. What if life and mind were con- 
ceived as demons of the Maxwell type ? We have already 
seen that their most essential function is selection and 
self -direction. The sifting, sorting out and grading which 
Clerk-Maxwell ascribes to his hypothetical demon is the 
very function of life and mind. Through this selective 
activity all collision with the second law is avoided, which 
is true of statistical averages only. Life or organic structure 
can build and does build itself up and increase its energy 
reserves and potentials in spite of the second law. And 
similarly selection and direction may be and are exercised 


in spite of the first law and without derogating from it. In 
other words, the self-direction which is inherent in life 
and mind involves no fresh creation of force or energy in its 
application to matter, as Leibniz held, and constitutes no 
infringement of the first law, as is commonly assumed. 
The same argument which holds for selection (of molecules 
with a particular speed) in reference to the second law holds 
also for direction of molecules in reference to the first law. 
The supposed demon, dealing with our volume of gas, would 
select molecules, not of a certain velocity, but moving in a 
certain direction, molecules with a certain orientation, in 
preference to others, and could thus obtain a body moving 
in a certain direction without the expenditure of any 
additional energy in bringing about this change of direction. 
Change of direction need not, therefore, involve any change 
in the energy situation, as Leibniz held and as is commonly 
assumed. It is only when bodies are considered as a whole 
and as averages, and without reference to their detailed 
structures and arrangements, that the difficulties arise and 
the physical system seems to come into conflict with the 
systems of life and mind. 

If my reasoning is correct the result is most important. 
It suggests and indicates the way in which, in bio-chemical 
and psycho-physical wholes, Life the selector and Mind the 
director may exercise their essential functions in bodies 
without coming into conflict with the laws of energy as 
ordinarily understood. The detailed method and mechanism 
of interaction are not yet explained, but at least the possibility 
of conflict is eliminated ; we see that these two systems may 
function in harmony and without violation of fundamental 
physical principles on the one hand or the stultification 
and nullification of life and mind on the other. The possi- 
bility of harmonious functioning is established ; the actuality 
of the process and its details remain for further discussion. 

Let me once more state the issue raised by physical 
science in connection with life and mind and see how 
the result we have now reached meets that issue. Taking 
for granted that the statistical laws of energy apply 


fully to all purely physical systems, the following questions 
arise : 

1. Do they also apply to systems, such as living organisms 
or conscious personalities, which are not purely physical 
systems ? 

2. Further, in such mixed systems, is the effect of the 
non-physical factor, life or mind, on the physical part of 
the system such that the laws of energy do no longer fully 
apply to this part? In other words, do life and mind 
disturb, deflect and alter the application of the principles 
of energy to the physical part in such mixed systems as 
living bodies or conscious personalities ? 

The answer to the first question is in the affirmative and 
to the second question in the negative. The laws of energy 
hold for the physical mechanisms of organisms and persons 
no less than for purely physical systems ; and the influences 
of life and mind, whatever they may be in other directions, 
do not invalidate the application of these laws to bodies or 
persons, in so far as they are physical systems or mechanisms. 
The laws of life and mind are not in conflict with the laws 
of energy. An organism is more than a physical structure ; 
but in so far as it is a physical structure it obeys the laws 
of energy just as if it were nothing but a physical structure. 

The result is important, because it does justice to both 
the physical and the non-physical aspects of bio-chemical 
and psycho-physical wholes. Ordinarily in the grand tug- 
of-war between the two aspects in these mixed systems, 
the palm of victory is awarded to one or the other, accord- 
ing to the naturalistic or spiritualistic leanings of the 
judges. According to those who adopt the standpoint of 
physical science, the laws of energy apply to the mixed 
systems, even to the extent of reducing life and mind to 
the role of impotent semblances or mere empty simulacra 
on the scene of existence. Again, according to the spiritualist 
view, the factors of life and mind are real and operative, 
not only on their own proper level and in their own domain, 
but to the extent of qualifying and modifying l even the 

1 Hobhouse : Development and Purpose, pp. 326, 329. 


mechanical relations of the bodily or physical structure, 
and thus affecting the application of the laws of energy to 
it. The first conclusion (Naturalism) is contradicted by 
our direct consciousness, the second (Spiritualism) by the 
experimental results of observations on living bodies. The 
reasoning we have followed so far, on the suggestion of one 
of the great masters of physical science, has indicated 
to us how life and mind may discharge their essential 
functions without impinging on the universal laws of 
energy, which are the very foundation of the whole system 
of science. The higher structures of life and mind do not 
mean the annihilation of the lower structures of energy. 
Here again, as we have seen before in the general process of 
creative Evolution, the lower becomes the unit for the next 
higher ; there is a grading of the advance without a destruc- 
tion of the steps or grades constituting the advance. The 
higher structure is based on the lower structure without 
the absorption and disappearance of the latter in the pro- 
cess. Thus mind structures presuppose life structures, and 
life structures presuppose energy structures, which are 
themselves graded according to the various forms of physical 
and chemical grouping. 

The via media, the way of reconciliation between the 
mistaken extremes, which we have followed, is often missed 
by others because they are misled by hypostatising body 
and mind as two distinct entities or substances or res, as 
Descartes called them. These two entities or substances 
are then brought to interact by way of external relations, 
which are naturally of a mechanical character, as all external 
relations are. This interaction by way of externality 
reduces mind to the level of body and thus ends by a 
practical denial of mind. This mistake is then corrected by 
the opposite mistake of an attack on the body or the physical 
order. Thus the Naturalistic and Spiritualistic fallacies 
arise. Here these mistakes have been avoided by our 
refusal to look at the two physical and non-physical systems 
as distinct entities coming into external relations. Clerk- 
Maxwell's suggestion has taken us right into the inner 



structure of the gas, and has shown us an inner selective 
process at work which is by no means merely mechanical, 
and which has resulted in the segregation of a new structure 
from the old in a way which constitutes an apparent, but 
merely an apparent, and no real breach of the universal 
laws of energy. The fable of the selective demon contains 
a real truth, and points to the nature of the activity of life 
and mind in bodily structure. But at best the fable is 
but a crude and rough version of a matter which requires 
much more careful exploration. And we therefore pro- 
ceed now to consider in closer detail the nature of 
the bio-chemical and psycho-physical unities or wholes, 
and the relations between the two mixed systems which 
they include in their wholeness or unity. The best vindi- 
cation of Holism as a category of explanation would be 
the light it could throw on the mode of union of the 
two systems, on the way in which body and life, life and 
mind constitute unities or wholes such as we know in 

Life the selector, and Mind the director, how do they 
operate, what is the mechanism which interlocks them and 
makes them one with the physical? What fundamental 
conception can we form of the physical, the vital, the 
psychical which will represent in thought the unities which 
they are and form in fact? Life starts from the simplest 
almost purely mechanical forms in the vegetable kingdom 
and passes upward until it flowers into the marvels of 
organisation of structure and function, of beauty of form 
and activity, which we see in the plant and animal kingdoms. 
And it probably had an immensely long history of develop- 
ment before it attained even the lowest forms now known 
to us. But all through, the fundamental function of selec- 
tion, of selective taking and leaving, has distinguished it. 
Mind again, by selecting the selected, has initiated the 
power of direction which has gradually evolved into the 
new world of the free spirit. How can we envisage the 
physical, the vital, the psychical as together forming 
unities and wholes as they do in fact ? 


Naturalism answers this question, as we have seen, by 
making life and mind the mere unreal accompaniments, 
the reflexes or shadows, of the real mechanistic physico- 
chemical system. A solution which in effect rules out half 
of the world of reality as revealed in our experience cannot 
be accepted as satisfactory and need not detain us here. 
Vitalism again puts forward a theory of its own which we 
may examine for a moment. We shall take it in the form 
presented by Professor Hans Driesch, who has elaborated 
a special form of the Vitalist theory with an imposing 
apparatus of proofs. This is the theory of Entelechy. 
Driesch supposes a non-mechanical agent at work in psycho- 
physical systems which has the power of suspending their 
action in particular respects, thus enabling them to store 
up and retain their energies, and which again relaxes its 
suspensory power and thereby allows their energies to be set 
free and their action to proceed when the situation of life 
requires it. Where this controlling action on the part of 
the mysterious Entelechy comes from, Driesch does not 
profess to know. It evidently corresponds somewhat to 
Maxwell's mythical demon. But its power is more closely 
defined as checking action, when action would mean mere 
dissipation of energy, and releasing the check when necessary, 
and thus setting free the stored-up energy of the system 
to produce the effects, such as we see in the organic world. 
This relaxing action of Entelechy is non-energetic; it is 
not the removal of some mechanical obstacle, as such 
removal would involve some expenditure of energy, however 
small. The releasing action of Entelechy is entirely an 
action sui generis, just as the suspending action is. Driesch 
considers that this assumed action of Entelechy is the only 
possible way in which the causal relation between the 
mechanical and the non-mechanical world can be made 
intelligible without sacrificing the fact that organic life 
is limited by matter. 1 Entelechy is obviously little more 
than another name for life; life being conceived as a real 
agent, a real operative factor inside the physico-chemical 

1 Problem of Individuality, pp. 38-40. 


system which we call the body, and with a real power of 
action upon it. But as Entelechy is expressly a non- 
mechanical, non-energetic agent, the mystery of the action 
of this non-mechanical agent on the mechanical physical 
body remains entirely unexplained. I fail to see how the 
concept of Entelechy takes us much further than the fable 
of Maxwell's demon does. Something like selection, the 
suspension of action and its relaxation, may probably take 
place. But the difficulty remains of conceiving how this 
is brought about and operates. The introduction of the 
concept of Entelechy does not really help us. We have 
still to see whether there is anything in the physico-chemical 
situation which throws any light on the mystery, and 
whether it is possible to avoid the appearance on the scene 
of a dcus ex machina, such as Entelechy undoubtedly is. 
I shall therefore proceed to inquire what light the concept 
of Holism, as it has been expounded in previous chapters, 
throws on this problem of the nature of " life," and of its 
action on the physico-chemical system which constitutes its 
body in any living organism. It is unnecessary to point 
out that we are in a region of speculation, where no theories 
can be brought to the test of decisive experiment or 
proof. All that we can hope to achieve is to render 
intelligible what is in itself a great mystery to thought; 
to supply some possible explanation even if we are not 
sure that it is the real one; to suggest a scheme of a 
possible modus operandi which the imagination can visualise 
to itself. More than a possible explanation I do not pretend 
to give. 

Science has made clear, as we have seen in previous 
chapters, that the physico-chemical system is a structure, 
a structure composed of elements in more or less of equili- 
brium. Such is the atom of matter, such the molecule and 
all chemical compounds which form the substance of living 
bodies. The equilibrium of the structure is also only 
approximate; were it complete, little room would be left 
for change; the physical world would be a stereotyped 
system of fixed stable forms, and little or no room would 


be left for those changes and developments which make 
Nature a great system of events, a great history moving 
onward through Space-Time. The fundamental structures 
of Nature are thus in somewhat unstable equilibrium. 
A change in equilibrium does not mean an alteration 
in the position and activity of one element of the structure 
only ; there is a redistribution which affects all the elements. 
It is the very nature of the structure in changing its equili- 
brium to distribute the change over all its component 
elements. No demon is at work among these elements to 
transpose them, to rearrange them, and to vary their 
functions slightly so as to produce the new balance or 
equilibrium of the whole. It is an inherent character of 
the physico-chemical structure as such, and is explicable 
on purely physical and chemical principles which do not 
call for the intervention of an extraordinary agent. Another 
peculiar feature about the change in equilibrium in a 
physico-chemical structure is that it is never such as to 
produce a perfect new equilibrium; the new is merely 
approximate just as the old equilibrium was. We may 
say that the change is from too little to too much. A 
structure remains unchanged in spite of a small change 
in its inner equilibrium; hence the inner instability must 
pass certain limits before the readjustment in equilibrium 
takes place. The instance of a supersaturated solution is 
a case in point, where the solidification or crystallisation 
lags behind the conditions which bring it about. When 
the change does come, it again proceeds too far; it swings 
beyond the necessities of the case; it passes the limits of 
perfect equilibrium on to the other side, so to say. From 
too little adjustment it passes to too much adjustment, and 
again there is a condition of instability which has to be 
righted by a swing back in due course. Thence arises the 
rhythmic character of natural change, which links it on to 
the rhythm of the life-processes, and shows that they spring 
from the same source in the inner nature of things. Hence 
probably arise also the definite quantitative increments 
of change which the New Physics reveals. 


This mysterious tendency to equilibrium or inner stability 
shows the inner holistic character even of physico-chemical 
structures. There is an internal balance which preserves 
the type, a push-on when the structure is endangered from 
one quarter, a pull-up when it is endangered from another. 
These inner pushes and pulls are not the work of extraneous 
demons, but represent the inner holistic nature even of 
natural physical things in their total make-up. And the 
pushes and pulls are adjusted into a great rhythmic process 
which becomes the law of life in the next higher grade 
of structures. We may call the structure a mechanism 
and its action mechanical. But both ideas are but a super- 
ficial view of the real facts, which are so remarkable as to 
be almost as mysterious as the similar though more 
complicated phenomena which meet us in the structures of 
life. Not laissez-faire, not utter Chance and Hazard, but 
control or governance meets us in the inner courts even 
of physical nature. 

I envisage the physico-chemical structures of Nature as 
the beginnings and earlier phases of Holism, and " life " 
as a more developed phase of the same inner activity. 
Life is not a new agent, with the mission of interfering 
with the structure of matter; the control which it appears 
to establish is not a disturbance and upsetting of the 
natural order. It is itself a structure, based on the lower 
structures of the physico-chemical order; and the control 
it introduces is nothing but an extension and develop- 
ment of the natural physical control which, as we 
have just seen, is already in operation in the lower 
structures for the maintenance of the inner stability. Life 
is a new structure of the physico-chemical structures 
of Nature. It is not there to cancel them, to upset or 
destroy them, but to introduce a still deeper, more 
fundamental element of structure into Nature. And the 
structures of the lower order are necessary to it. With- 
out matter no life, without the physico-chemical structures 
no structure of life. The one is a stepping-stone to the 
other; nay, more, is an essential element in the other; 


the physico-chemical structures become the elements in the 
new complex structure of life. No cancellation, no annihila- 
tion, no repudiation of the past; but only more intensive 
organisation of the pre-existing factors into the new creative 
structure of life. 

The new structure of life differs from the physico-chemical 
structures which are its material, its constituent elements ; 
the difference is most important and far-reaching, but 
does not amount to antagonism. A deeper harmony is 
introduced; the earlier, cruder notes of the physico- 
chemical order become a new music of being. There 
is an element of newness, of structural and functional 
synthesis, introduced, but the new does not conceal 
or annul the old. The structural march of Holism 
has only proceeded one step, one great step forward; but 
the system and character of its advance remain funda- 
mentally the same. The new is a greater complication, a 
deeper intensification; there is more selectiveness, more 
direction, more control; there is more of the whole, of 
the character of wholeness, in the new structure than in the 
old. But there is no switching off from the old to the 
new ; the one is a continuation of the other, a continuation 
indeed of a novel and creative character, but not a denial 
of and a going back on the other. 

Thus life is a structure like matter; and a structure in 
a similar state of unstable equilibrium. The change of 
equilibrium has the same rhythmic character; only this 
character is far more noticeable and pervasive than the 
similar phenomenon in matter. The rhythmic oscillation 
becomes the distinguishing mark of the functions of the 
life-structures. The pulsations, the rhythmic flow of the 
functions of cells form the law of life, and incidentally 
become the basis of the new element of music in life; 
they give to music that primordial fundamental character 
which takes us back to the very beginnings of life on 
this globe, and makes music the deep appeal of all the 
long ages to emotions the most primitive as well as the 
most highly evolved. The rhythm of equilibrium shows 


the close linkage between the physical structures and the 
life-structures. And its music links all life together through 
all the ages. 

The equilibrium of the life-structure also gives us the 
origin of the idea of life as the selector, the suspensor and 
relaxor of the activities of the new structures. In any 
change in the equilibrium of the physico-chemical structure 
already there is, as we have seen, the distribution of 
the change over all the component elements; there are 
the new arrangement and alignment of elements and their 
activities which conduce most effectively to the balance 
of the whole. This is exactly what happens, though on 
a much larger scale, in the rhythmic change of the life- 
equilibrium. In the movements of that change, elements 
are rearranged, functions are readjusted with a view to the 
conservation and activity of the whole. Selection and 
direction and control are inherent activities. No extraneous 
factor does this ; no mysterious stranger needs to be intro- 
duced from some alien world to work the mechanisms. 
It is the very nature of the equilibrium of the new structure 
thus to direct and regulate thus to transpose and distribute 
the factors of equilibrium among its component elements, 
thus to rearrange and readjust and interchange elements 
of structure and function so as to constitute its new balance 
of structure and function, and to preserve it as a whole. 
The selective regulative nature, character and activity of 
life arise from the very nature and process of the equili- 
brium in the new structures which we associate with life. 
The conception of Entelechy is therefore not necessary. 
The regulative equilibrium of the new structures which we 
call organisms is sufficient. This equilibrium oscillates 
between certain limits, and within these limits the structure 
maintains its balance of parts and activities inside the 
physical system of Nature. Beyond those limits it is, of 
course, destroyed, and the structure of life is therefore 
most closely and intimately associated with the conditions 
and properties of its material medium. It is not an inde- 
pendent entity, self-created and free from the trammels 


of matter. It is a complex structure of the simpler struc- 
tures of matter, and therefore dependent on those structures 
and their laws. But within certain limits it creates internally 
its own adjustments as a structure and is to that extent 
free from matter. It is more of a whole, it has a measure 
of freedom, and in its self -maintenance and dynamic stability 
it shows a power of internal regulation and co-ordination 
which is quite beyond the range of the lower physical 
structures. Take, for instance, the manner in which the 
bodily temperature is maintained under all sorts of con- 
ditions through a most minute and delicate co-operation 
of a vast number of physiological factors and mechanisms. 
Professor Haldane has very ably dealt with this aspect of 
the matter and has shown with great force that Physiology 
demands imperatively new categories of explanation, and 
can no longer rest content with the crude conceptions of 
mechanism which have so far been prevalent. But, on the 
other hand, his argument must not blind us to the funda- 
mental similarities between inorganic and organic structures. 
Organic structures do but repeat on a higher plane of 
organisation and with an added element of newness, inherent 
in Holism, that process of self -adjusted, self-regulated 
equilibrium and of inner self-control which likewise, though 
in a less degree, characterises inorganic structures. 

I have to make one more assumption in regard to the 
character of the new structures of life and their change of 
equilibrium. Evolution is a fact of observation and experi- 
ence; and it shows a persistent trend. From matter to 
life, from life to more life and to higher life ; from higher 
life to mind, from mind to more and higher mind, and to 
spirit in its highest creative manifestations. There is a 
process with a persistent trend, which cannot possibly be 
the mere result of accident. If it were all a matter of 
chance and contingency, the odds would be infinitely more 
in favour of chaos than of this persistent trend of intensi- 
fying structure and order. In fact the idea of chance arises 
from too limited and abstract a view of the facts. The more 
limited our survey of the facts, the more unintelligible their 


relations and coherences become, and hence the more 
fortuitous appears to be the course of events. On the other 
hand, the wider, more concrete our survey of the facts, the 
more coherent become their relations, the more clearly their 
place in the general scheme is discerned, and the less of 
chance there is. Chance, like so many of the other fallacies 
of thought already dealt with in previous chapters, is a child 
of abstraction. The view of the whole and of happening as 
holistic largely eliminates this source of error. 

The creative process of Holism consists in the intensifica- 
tion of structures, in small elements of newness appearing 
in existing structures until the basis is thereby laid for a new 
departure in structure; but still on the basis of the pre- 
existing structures, and so to say in line with the pre-existing 
structures. Matter and energy were probably such depar- 
tures in structure from pre-existing structures which have 
now passed away and are unknown to us. Similarly life is a 
new departure in structure, but still in harmony and more 
or less in line with matter, whose laws are only in appearance 
and not in reality opposed to the processes of life. Life, 
again, represents a rising scale of structure until the founda- 
tions have been prepared for a new departure in structure 
in the form of Psychism or mind ; and mind is on the whole 
in harmony with life and in line with it. There is thus a 
persistent trend in the evolution of structures and of the 
forms and types of existence : how is this to be accounted 
for on our theory ? 

I can only say, in keeping with the spirit of our whole 
subject, that all structures are under the fundamental 
influence of Holism, which is faintly but perceptibly pulling 
them in its direction. The trend of slight overbalance is thus 
towards Holism, towards a structural character which will 
ever more approximate towards wholeness. In other words, 
the inner trend of the universe, registered in its very con- 
stitution, is directed away from the merely mechanical 
towards the holistic character and towards the realisation 
of Holism as its immanent ideal. The nature of the universe 
points to something deeper, to something beyond itself. 


The persistent direction on the whole shows that it is not 
self-sufficing. It has a trend; it has a list. It has an 
immanent Telos. It belongs to or is making for some 
greater whole. And the pull of this greater whole is 
enregistered in its inmost structures. I return to this 
subject in the final chapter. 

At the conclusion of my argument I shall be asked how 
the result bears on the problem of Mechanism and Holism 
with which I began this chapter. Life has been shown to 
be a structure, or structure-like, or best represented by the 
imagery of a structure, just as matter is. Life has appeared 
as a continuation on a higher plane of the sort of structure 
which matter is on a lower plane a higher structure of 
the same material, and therefore at bottom not something 
utterly alien to and different from it. And I shall be asked, 
"Is Mechanism then final? Is life only a more refined 
mechanism, a mechanism of a higher type, but still a 
mechanism ? And is Mind a still more refined mechanism ? 
If not, then where in the progress of my argument 
does the Mechanism come to an end and the Holism 
begin ? Where is the great break, the great rift between 
the material and the non-material which experience 
reveals? Or is experience at fault in accentuating this 
great break or rift? " In answering these questions I 
shall not go back to the preceding argument, but I 
shall briefly state my general impression, my standpoint 
in this matter, which is both the source and the outcome 
of the preceding argument. Mechanism is not final. It is 
not all Mechanism at the beginning, nor is it all Holism in 
the long run. If the two have to be distinguished we may 
say that they vary in inverse proportions with the forward 
march of Evolution. But the deeper view does not dis- 
tinguish them, and discloses the fundamental unity. 
Mechanism, as I have said, is a phase, an earlier immature 
phase of Holism ; just as life is an intermediate phase, and 
mind is a later phase; while other phases are probably in 
store for the experience of the higher race which will 
succeed the human in the future. Holism is a mediating 


concept; it is the reality which underlies all the phases. 
And in the self -fulfilment of Holism, one phase passes 
into another. And the past phases endure, though in 
ever diminishing degree, and in compressed diminished scope, 
in the newer phases. Hence I have adopted the imagery of 
the structures, ever more complex structures embracing the 
same material as the earlier structures, together with these 
earlier structures which are the units of the later structures. 
I have adopted this structural imagery because thought is 
relational or structural, and therefore more easily grasps 
elements of structure than principles or tendencies; and 
because in its interpretation of the physical world thought 
has already adopted the imagery of structures. I have 
therefore represented Holism as structural at all its known 
phases, and have distinguished the phases as differences of, 
and advances in, structure. But structure does not mean 
Mechanism. Mechanism is but one form of structure. 
The structure of mind is not mechanistic, nor is that of life. 
The fact is that there is an insensible passage of change 
from the earlier to the later, but that the change is never 
complete and that something of the earlier mechanistic 
phases survives in the later spiritual phases, which are 
essentially non-mechanistic. The passage is a creative one 
at all stages, elements of the new are continually appearing, 
but on the whole so minute as to escape notice. It is only 
at certain stages that the new appears to be not only 
sensible but striking. And here our experience seems to 
have magnified the change by hypostatising the new into 
a distinct substance or entity, and placing it in opposition 
to the old according to a fundamental polar tendency or 
polarity in all thought and experience. In measuring and 
reading-off reality we must make allowance for the small 
eccentricities of our instrument of thought, and we 
need not on that account discredit the instrument 
itself. If we make the small allowances necessary within 
the margin of essential error, we find the breaks and gaps 
and hypostatised distinctions are smoothed out and 
accounted for, and there remains one great fundamental 


Process creatively flowing forward and giving to all the 
manifold and diversified forms of existence the unity 
which is theirs by inalienable birthright. That Process 
is not a mere ideal; it is already, in some measure, 
a fact, accounting for all the particular facts and things 
of the actual universe. It is Holism, and its pathway is the 
concrete universe, in which all the differences and gaps and 
apparent antagonisms are but the steps in the progress, 
the moments in the great line of advance. Unity thus 
underlies all the differences and is the final ground for 
their reconciliation. 



Summary. Darwin's conception of Organic Descent and his 
formulation of its laws were the beginning of one of the most far- 
reaching revolutions in human thought. Holism gives a new view 
of one of the Darwinian factors, and extends the scope of Evolution 
beyond the purely organic domain. 

Darwin traced Organic Descent to the interwoven effects of two 
factors ; an inner creative factor, Variation, operating spontaneously 
and somewhat mysteriously inside organisms and modifying their 
hereditary structures and functions in very slight degrees; and an 
external factor, Natural Selection, which operates selectively on 
these slight variations, weeding out those organisms whose variations 
were less suitable to their environment, and leaving the organisms 
with suitable variations to multiply and develop. By continuous 
summation of small useful variations through many generations 
definite specific characters would in time be achieved and new 
species arise. 

Darwin laid most stress on the factor of Natural Selection; on 
Variation he was vague and hesitating, but there is little doubt 
that he included not only inborn variations but individually acquired 
modifications among the elements which ultimately become specific 
characters. Thus all the multitudinous forms of life would in the 
end be moulded by both factors into very close conformity and 
adaptation to their conditions of life. 

The great Darwinian conception has been somewhat blurred by 
later developments, in which attention has been concentrated on 
the factor of Variation rather than on Natural Selection. First 
Weismann denied the transmissibility of acquired characters, and 
thus made it difficult to understand how organisms through their 
experience and habits of life become gradually fitted and adapted to 
their environment. Then De Vries eliminated all small variations 
from the account and attributed all specific advance to large well- 
marked " mutations " occurring very occasionally. This made it 
still more difficult to understand slow age-long adaptation, for 
instance, to habitats and ecological conditions. Finally, the 
Mendelians or Geneticists have developed the conception that in 
organisms there are well-marked stable unit-characters whose 



combinations in crossing follow a certain definite law; and the 
experimental Evolution and Cytology of to-day consist mostly in 
tracing these unit-characters and their manipulations in breeding 
and in the laboratory. The idea of more or less mechanical com- 
binations thus takes the place of the idea of creative variations, 
which underlay the Darwinian conception, and it becomes most 
difficult to understand how the new variation arises, and how it is 
that Evolution is really progressive and creative, and not a more or 
less stationary regime of casual character combinations. 

These later developments take too narrow a view of Evolution 
as a whole and therefore tend to become one-sided and to over- 
emphasise certain aspects of the whole process. They are, however, 
right in their emphasis on the inner creative factor which is the 
real positive motive force of Evolution. The real secret is in the 
cell, in the germ-cell or fertilised ovum rather than in the external 
situation, important as that is. That is the inner seat of Holism, 
which is the real source of all variation and Evolution. 

There is, however, no doubt that variation is influenced directly 
by external ecological conditions, which show themselves in the 
general characters of plant formations and societies, for instance. 
And there can likewise be little doubt that acquired characters in the 
long run reach down to the hereditary germ-cell and become trans- 
missible variations. While these variations are still small and 
without survival value the acquired characters and animal routine 
shield and nurse them until they are strong and developed enough 
to confer survival value on their organisms. Modifications thus are 
the rough material of variations ; and to that extent Weismann was 
wrong, and Darwin and further back, even Lamarck right. 

There is, however, a further complication which cannot be dealt 
with on purely Darwinian principles. Modifications and variations 
do not come singly but in complexes, involving many minor and 
consequential modifications and variations. Are they all individually 
" selected/' even before they have any survival value or strength? 
These difficulties force us to look deeper, to abandon the idea of the 
individual selection of variations, and to look upon the advance as 
not being that of a single variation or variations but of the organism 
as a whole. It is the organism that advances on a certain more 
or less limited front; the " variation " is only the most conspicuous 
point of advance, but there is a whole curve of advance involving 
many other minor points. In other words, the advance is holistic 
and the variation is only the most striking item of a whole series. 
And the progress and survival of the variation are an equally holistic 
affair. The organism is simply maintaining its own advance in the 
variation; the variation issues from it and is in conformity with 
its whole trend and movement; the variation is not single and 
unsupported, but behind it is the whole force of the organism, of 


whose inner movement the variation is but the most tangible expres- 
sion. It is thus the organism as a whole which in the first instance 
" selects " the winning variation or series, and confers on it support 
and survival value. " Holistic Selection " is therefore in operation 
at the birth and through the early nursing stage of the variation, 
and it is only at its maturity that Natural Selection takes over, and 
the variation begins to fend for itself, so to say. 

Holism must likewise be called in to explain organic co-ordination. 
It is, for instance, impossible without it satisfactorily to explain all 
the innumerable co-ordinations and co-adaptations in structure and 
functions which constitute the action of a living organism. No merely 
mechanical explanation of co-ordinated animal movements or action 
has even been given. The animal acts as a whole, with a unity and 
effectiveness of action which is no mere mechanical composition of 
its movements. Holism not merely as a concept, but as a real 
factor, is necessary to account for this unique unity of organic or 
psychic action. 

Holism is not merely creative of variations, but just as much 
repressive of variations. It is as often inhibitive as creative; it 
holds in check certain features while it releases and pushes forward 
others. Thus the balanced whole of the Type is achieved. This 
repressive aspect of progress is neglected by Darwinism, but it is 
just as real as the active variation. Both together underlie the 
types and structures of life. This repressive tendency, already fully 
at work on the organic level, becomes much more conspicuous on 
the psychical level, where it operates as ethical restraint, so essential 
in the formation of the Personality as a moral whole. 

From the holistic point of view it can be shown that the inner 
and outer factors in Evolution lie much closer together than is com- 
monly thought, and the grandeur of the Darwinian vision, instead 
of being dimmed, stands out in even greater fullness. 

Finally, Beauty in Nature is holistic, is of the whole, comes from 
Holism, and is explicable on no other principle. Holism thus 
accounts not only for the origin of forms and types, but also for 
their Values, which far transcend the survival values necessary 
merely for the utilitarian purposes of Nature. 

NEWTON'S Law of Gravitation is perhaps the most striking 
instance in the whole history of science of one simple 
generalisation bringing within its sweep the widest array 
of physical facts. The new heliocentric point of view had 
already become generally accepted when this law was 
formulated, but vast masses of facts remained which could 
not be co-ordinated, and required explanation from the 


new point of view. The law of the Inverse Square, as laid 
down by Newton, was completely effective. The phenomena 
of falling bodies on this earth, the motions of all terrestrial 
bodies, the movements of the solar system and of the 
starry universe as a whole, many of the phenomena of 
physics as known and understood at that time all seemed 
to find their correct place and explanation under this 
all-embracing formula. 

Newton did not pretend to understand or explain gravi- 
tation itself, and his lifelong meditations on this profound 
problem afforded him no clue as to the nature of gravitation. 
But the law of its action, the phenomena which happen on 
its assumption, he formulated with a simplicity and effective- 
ness which made it another instance of Columbus' egg. 
In the way of all human matters the law itself came to be 
looked upon as more than a law, as an explanation, indeed 
as an operative factor explaining all the phenomena which 
it covers. And it is only in our own day that gravitation 
in this sense has been shattered, and its law as formulated 
by Newton has come to have a restricted application. 
Relativity has dethroned gravitation, and for the moment 
Einstein's Ten Equations rule the universe, where before 
the equation of the inverse square was the only and 
unquestioned code. 

Immanuel Kant, himself one of the great kings and 
legislators of thought, looked upon the Newtonian system 
as final ; he raised the vision of some future Newton who 
would discover and formulate the laws of life, as Newton 
had laid down the laws of motion and of matter. Beyond 
all doubt Darwin fulfilled that vision, not perhaps in the 
sense intended by Kant, yet in a way which has made him 
perhaps an even more epoch-making figure than Newton. 
Newton proved epoch-making for science, while Darwin 
has become epoch-making in a far more fundamental 
sense. He has changed our whole human orientation 
of knowledge and belief, he has given a new direction to 
our outlook, our efforts and aspirations, and has probably 
meant a greater difference for human thought and action 


than any other single thinker. But even he is not final. 
He even less than Newton is final. He has pointed the 
great way, and on that way we are already travelling beyond 
his great vision. 

Let me first state Darwin's law, which was just as simple 
as Newton's, and much more easily intelligible. Among 
living beings there is a tendency to vary and over-multiply ; 
in consequence, a struggle for survival becomes inevitable, 
and in this struggle for existence the fittest survive. This 
explains the origin of species and all organic differences in 
the world. The tendency to variations is a fact patent to 
everyone ; so is the over-multiplication of individuals under 
favourable conditions and in the absence of external 
restraints; the resulting struggle which Darwin calls 
Natural Selection is well known to everyone who has the 
least knowledge of animate Nature. These are the simple 
bricks of fact with which the Darwinian theory is con- 
structed. Surely as striking a case of Columbus' egg as 
was ever presented. The genius of the Master was shown 
by the vastness of the structure he produced from these 
simple materials of common-sense and common experience. 
From these simple commonplace facts he explained the 
infinite variety of the forms of life which occupy the earth, 
their geographical distribution both in the past and in the 
present over the face of the globe, and the marvellous close- 
ness of their adaptation to the physical and other conditions 
among which they live adaptation to land and sea, to 
fresh and to salt water, to conditions of soil and climate 
embracing the extremes of heat and cold, to the widest 
range of wet, arid and desert conditions, and to all the 
innumerable facts and situations which lead to the inter- 
weaving of the mysterious web of life. 

The whole Darwinian theory is summarised in the last 
sentences of the Origin of Species with a simplicity and 
beauty of statement worthy of the simple but profound 
genius of the Master, and they raise before us in a few 
touches the great Darwinian vision. They have often been 
quoted, but will bear re-quotation here, and for all time : 


"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, 
clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds 
singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting 
about, and with worms crawling through the damp 
earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed 
forms, so different from each other, and dependent 
upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been 
produced by laws acting around us. These laws, 
taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Repro- 
duction; Inheritance which is almost implied by 
reproduction ; Variability from the indirect and direct 
action of the conditions of life, and from use and 
disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a 
struggle for life, and as a consequence to Natural 
Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the 
extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the 
war of Nature, from famine and death, the most exalted 
object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, 
the production of the higher animals, directly follows. 
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several 
powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator 
into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this 
planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law 
of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms 
most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are 
being evolved." 

I am free to confess that there are few passages in the 
great literature of the world which affect me more deeply 
than these concluding words of Darwin's great book. They 
have a force and a beauty out of all proportion to their simple 
unadorned phrasing. They are the expression of a great 
selfless soul, who sought truth utterly and fearlessly, and was 
in the end vouchsafed a vision of the unity of life which 
perhaps has never been surpassed in its fullness and grandeur. 

Darwin assumed two operative factors in the organic 
world : (i) Variation in the reproduction and inheritance 
of living beings, and (2) Natural Selection, or the survival 


of the fittest, as Herbert Spencer called it. Darwin's name 
is principally associated with the second factor, with which 
his works mostly deal, and which he elaborated with an 
unrivalled wealth of detail. He devoted much less attention 
to Variation, and indeed used it chiefly as a peg on which 
to hang his theory of the origin of species through Natural 
Selection. Variation was to him a mysterious fact for 
Natural Selection to work on. But its spontaneous uncon- 
trolled character puzzled him. He found no helpful 
imagery to explain the puzzle. He suggested the theory 
of Pangenesis, which showed great insight, but it has not 
been adopted by his successors. The germ-cell theory, 
which supplied a mechanism for heredity and variation 
alike, was a later discovery. The science of Genetics has 
mainly arisen since his day. Not only were his views on 
variation meagre and vague, but such views as he had have 
not been adopted by later Darwinians. Thus in the passage 
just quoted he attributes variation to the " direct and 
indirect action of the conditions of life, and to use and 
disuse/' Most Darwinians to-day hold very pronounced 
views in the opposite direction, and deny that these are the 
sources of Variation. At present there seem to be indications 
of a reaction, of a return to Darwin and even to Lamarck, 
and a tendency to look more favourably upon the views of 
Darwin on this important point. But the fact is that 
Darwin is on the whole vague on the subject of Variation, 
and concentrated all his strength on the other principle of 
Natural Selection and its effects in shaping the organic 

However this may be, there is no doubt that both Varia- 
tion and Natural Selection are essential elements in the 
Darwinian theory. Darwinism, in fact, implies two factors : 
an internal factor, operating mysteriously in the inmost 
nature and constitution of living organisms, and an external 
factor working along independent lines on the results achieved 
by the internal factor. The inner factor, Variation, is 
positive and creative, producing all the variations which 
are the raw material for progress. The external factor, 


Natural Selection, is essentially negative and destructive, 
eliminating the harmful or less fit or useful variations, and 
leaving the more fit or useful variations free play to con- 
tinue and multiply, and in this process fitting and adapting 
the individual to the character of its environment. As De 
Vries has phrased it, the inner factor explains the arrival, 
and the external factor the survival, of the fit or useful 
variation or organism. 

Darwin's over-emphasis of the second or external factor 
had one very unfortunate result : it directly and powerfully 
reinforced and exaggerated the mechanistic conception of 
the universe. The vera causa of organic change and progress 
appeared to be Natural Selection, an external factor operating 
on organisms ab extra, in the same way as physical or 
dynamical forces are impressed on bodies or their parts 
from the outside. Mechanical analogies began to be applied, 
and Evolution came to be looked upon as the mechanics of 
organic development Entwicklungsmechanik, as it has 
been called by Wilhelm Roux. The whole tendency of 
Darwinism has therefore been vastly to add to the dominance 
of the mechanistic hypothesis, which has through it come 
to extend its sway from the kingdom of matter to that of 
life. What is more, the simplicity of the Darwinian theory 
has helped to make, not only Evolution, but the mechanical 
view of Evolution, common property. The mystery of 
progress seemed to become quite simple and intelligible on 
this theory. It all depended on the survival of the fittest, 
and the survival of the fittest was so simple and clear an 
idea, and one too so deeply rooted in our ordinary empirical 
experience, that it seemed all a matter of course which had 
only to be pointed out by Darwin to be accepted by every- 
body. The difficult part of the theory, the aspect of it 
which even to Darwin had remained a mystery, the inner 
creative factor of Variation, was ignored while Darwinism 
was in the course of being generally accepted, and accepted 
in the mechanical sense. 

This was the first phase of Darwinism, the phase during 
which Natural Selection was chiefly stressed and was the 


dominant note in the theory. Then came the second phase, 
when attention began to be given to the other factor of 
Variation. With this Neo-Darwinian phase the name of 
Weismann is for ever honourably associated. Many great 
labourers there have been in this field, but the name of 
Weismann will ever stand out pre-eminent as the biologist 
who, whatever his mistakes in detail, initiated and developed 
the exploration of the germ-cell as the source of Variation 
in Evolution. Weismann turned the gaze of Evolutionists 
from the outside to the inside of the process, from the 
apparent mechanism of external interaction and clash to 
the mystery of the inner process. And what he taught was 
not only most surprising, but remains one of the most 
significant and important truths in the whole range of 
biology. I shall deal with this matter just now. But 
before doing so I wish to point out that Weismann and his 
fellow-workers were handicapped in their labours by the 
mechanical view of Evolution which had already become a 
fixed dogma in the earlier stage of Darwinism. If any- 
where, the mechanistic conception should have received its 
quietus in the domain of Variation, in the exploration of 
the inner process or factor of Evolution. Unfortunately 
Weismann and several of the most prominent biologists who 
developed this second phase of Darwinism arrived at their 
task not only as convinced Darwinians, but as mechanistic 

The great battle in which Darwinism had won was tacitly 
considered a victory for the mechanical view of it. And thus 
the whole problem of Variation, as viewed by these leading 
Neo-Darwinians, came to be one of investigating or finding 
the mechanism of Variation. Their services have been 
great, and the route they have opened up will in the years 
to come lead to even greater results. But there is no doubt 
that the mechanistic conception has been a grave handicap 
to them, and that many of their errors are directly traceable 
to its disturbing and distorting influence. In the first 
chapter I tried to show how erroneous the conception of 
Natural Selection as a purely mechanical factor in Evolution 


was. In this chapter I shall endeavour to show that the 
purely mechanistic conception of Variation is just as arbitrary 
and misleading. 

The root of Weismann's difficulties lies in his mechanistic 
conception of the germ-cell. The cell, as we saw in Chapter 
IV, in its metabolism already shows many of the functions 
and activities which we associate with the complete indi- 
vidual organism. It is itself a holistic individual, with the 
most marvellous selective and regulative powers, reminding 
us (on a much lower plane) of what at a later stage of 
Evolution appears as the psychical factor. This applies to 
the germ-cell even more than to the ordinary body-cells. 
The germ-cell has its " field," and the field of the germ-cell 
is much more important than is ordinarily thought. Experi- 
mental Evolutionists seek more in the physical elements of 
the germ-cell than is there. There is much more in the 
inheritance of the germ-cell than can be identified by an 
analysis of its elements. And this more is in its field, which 
represents that part of the germ-cell which has not yet been 
crystallised and hardened into sensible structure. The 
organic field, as explained in a previous chapter, is the milieu 
of interwoven influences, of internal and external stimuli and 
responses, in and around the cell or the organism. The 
functioning of the cell or organism as a whole depends on 
this milieu much more than on individual elements in the 
structure. Much of its past and its future is in its field; 
in its field the creative adjustments are begun which are 
ultimately translated and incorporated into its structure. 
Here as elsewhere the field is the area of becoming, of 
creativeness, the growing surface of the structure. To con- 
fine our view of the germ-cell to its apparent elements of 
structure is simply to atomise our conceptions on chemical 
analogies, and to narrow them unduly to the neglect of very 
important features in the functions and activities of the 
germ-cell, and to compel us in the end to adopt that mechani- 
cal view which is the negation of its inmost nature as a living 
holistic individual unity. In this chapter I shall endeavour 
to show how the concept of Holism acts as a solvent for the 


difficulties created by the mechanistic conception of 

The alterations in the Darwinian scheme introduced by 
Darwin's successors have had a profound effect on that 
scheme as a whole ; so much so that it is to-day difficult to 
say how much of Darwin's great vision still survives. In 
order to realise this, it would be advisable to compare 
Darwin's general ideas of the facts of Variation with the 
modifications introduced by his successors. 

In Darwin's view, it was not only the operation of Natural 
Selection that was moulding living things in conformity 
with their environment, by eliminating those that were 
less suited to the conditions of the environment. Varia- 
tion was also bearing its share in this process of 
assimilating and adapting them to the environment. The 
close fitting of species to their habitats and environmental 
conditions which is so distinctive of animate Nature was, 
according to him, the combined effect both of Natural 
Selection and Variation. 

In order to ensure clearness in what follows we have to 
distinguish between various forms of so-called " variation " 
in living things. In the first place, we have modifications, 
which are due to the functional activities and experiences 
of the individual in its own life, and not to inheritance from 
parents or ancestors. The effects on the bodily organism 
or on particular organs of their use or disuse in any definite 
way would be such modifications. An animal changes its 
mode of life and in consequence ceases to use certain organs, 
or begins to use them in a new way or for a new purpose. 
Such disuse tends to the atrophy of these organs, just as 
such new or increased use would develop them. Such 
atrophy or development respectively in the bodily organism 
is a modification. All changes or characteristics acquired 
during the individual life are modifications. 

In the second place we have variations, which are small 
changes passing by inheritance, and not due to the develop- 
ments or acquisitions of the individual life. A small 
alteration from the type which an animal has inherited 


from its parents is a variation, in contradistinction to a 
modification which has been brought about in its own 
lifetime. In the third place, a large very marked inherited 
change is called a mutation. Any inherited change large 
and marked enough to constitute a new variety or species 
is a mutation. 

Now I think it is beyond question that according to 
Darwin's view all three forms of change modifications, 
variations and mutations were useful and operative in 
the ultimate production of new species. Modifications due 
to individual use or disuse he certainly pressed into the 
service of his scheme of Evolution ; and although it is not 
quite clear how far other modifications were similarly treated 
by him, it follows from the above quotation as well as from 
other passages in his works that variations due " to the 
indirect or direct action of the conditions of life/' in other 
words, alterations affecting the individual life, could, to an 
extent never clearly defined by him, avail for the production 
of new species. As regards mutations, while he gave reasons 
for disbelieving in great and sudden changes as the ordinary 
rule of evolution, it can certainly not be said that he excluded 
them. His view was that the slow and gradual summation 
of small modifications and variations continuously conserved 
or kept going by Natural Selection would, and in fact did, 
in the course of many generations amount to a sufficiently 
large and marked change to constitute a new type or species. 
The continuous summation of the effects of use and disuse 
and the other conditions of life, as well as the accidental 
inherited variations which were of a more mysterious origin, 
would necessarily co-operate with Natural Selection in 
bringing about the close adaptation of the species to its 
environment. The result was the vast and intricate system 
of adaptations and co-adaptations, of harmonious adjustment 
between Nature and organic life, ramifying through the 
infinite details of the web of life which we see in Nature. 
Thus Evolution was explained, thus all the fine adjustments 
and adaptations in Nature were explained. Only a very 
long time was required for the infinitesimal calculus of 


Natural Selection to produce the various results, and that 
requirement was conceded by the astronomers and geologists. 
Darwin's view seemed very well to fit in with the fossil 
record as well as with the facts of geographical distribution, 
which he looked upon as the keystone to the laws of life. 
No wonder that the appeal of Darwin's theory proved 
irresistible and its effect crushing on all the older points of 
view. The triumph of Darwin's splendid vision of Evolution 
seemed complete. 

Then the second phase of Darwinism began, with the 
detailed search for the methods and mechanism of Variation 
and with the venue shifted from the ample range of Nature 
to the research laboratory of Genetics. First Weismann 
negatived the inheritance of acquired characters, and of 
modifications due to use or disuse or other environmental 
conditions operating on the individual life. Only the 
accidental germinal variations, and none of the moulding 
effects of the environment on the individual, could avail in 
the building up of new species. Then De Vries came 
forward and largely eliminated small ordinary variations 
from the account, and thus practically confined progress to 
mutations. Finally, the experimental Mendelians or Gene- 
ticists appeared, and through their researches and experi- 
ments appeared to confine Evolution to the interchange, 
the combinations and permutations of definite existing 
unit characters. The combined effect of these three 
advances on the Darwinian theory might appear largely 
destructive of Darwinism itself. If, following the Men- 
delians, we hold that the interchange of definite pre- 
existing unit characters is all there is in the process of 
Evolution, advance becomes impossible and creative Evo- 
lution disappears. If, according to De Vries, accidental 
mutation is in a large measure all there is for Natural 
Selection to work on, the advance becomes indeed a most 
precarious affair, instead of that steady, continuous, delicate 
process which has been going on through the geological ages. 
If, according to Weismann, modifications from use and 
disuse and similar causes have no survival value and are 


inoperative in the formations of new species, it becomes most 
difficult to understand the universal close-fitting adaptations 
of species to their conditions of life. For there is nothing 
in common between the accidental variations and Natural 
Selection, and there is no clear reason why or how this clash 
should not produce chaos and disaster, rather than the 
harmonies and adjustments which actually characterise the 
relations of animate and inanimate Nature. Darwin's 
theory, even if it were wrong in its details, certainly served 
to explain and render intelligible the broad facts of the 
order, adjustment and progress observable in animate 
Nature. His successors 1 theories, even where they are 
correct in detail, fail to explain these facts, and make of 
the world of life as a whole an unintelligible and in some 
respects an incredible affair. 

It would, however, be a serious mistake to look upon the 
more recent developments in the nascent science of Genetics 
as covering the whole wide field of the Darwinian theory. 
So far as I know, they have no such scope, nor are they so 
intended or understood by those who are responsible for 
the very important researches in Genetics now being success- 
fully carried on in biological laboratories. These researches 
are intended to follow up a special line which was first 
opened up by the experiments of the Abbot Mendel of 
Briinn in the time of Darwin. They occupy a very restricted 
area of the whole field of organic Evolution, and are really 
concerned only with the .elucidation of the special set of 
problems arising from the crossing or hybridising of races, 
varieties or definitely distinct variations. Those problems 
centre around the important question how biological 
characters already in existence, whether patent or masked, 
behave when brought into contact with each other. Mendel 
found that certain existing characters behaved as firm and 
stable units, very much as atoms or molecules do in chemical 
combination, and he also discovered the law of the propor- 
tions in which these unit characters are reproduced in the 
offspring. Thus if individuals of dominant character a are 
crossed with individuals having recessive character 6, then 


in the second filial generation the members of individuals 
respectively with a characters, and b characters, and mixed 
a and b characters are given by the algebraic formula 
(a + b) 2 = a 2 + 2a6 + b 2 . In other words, 25 per cent, 
of the second generation will be pure a's and pure 6\s 
respectively, and 50 per cent, will represent individuals 
with mixed qualities, which on being again crossed with 
each other will again produce pure a's and 6's and mixed 
ab's in the same algebraic proportions ; and so on apparently 
ad infinitum. His researches have been amply confirmed 
by later inquiries, and they have also established that not 
only do these unit characters behave as fixed and stable 
entities, but, very much in the manner of radicle groups in 
Chemistry, groups of such unit characters also sometimes 
behave as stable combinations, and enter into combination 
with other unit characters as persistent unities. This is all 
very remarkable and interesting, and has important bearings 
on the practical improvement of breeds and races of animals, 
and on the beginnings of the new science of Eugenics. But 
for our present purpose it is merely necessary for me to 
point out that Mendelism or Genetics deals with the mani- 
pulation of existing characters, and not with their origin, 
genesis or creation. The main question before organic 
Evolution, how specific characters are produced which have 
not existed before, is not directly touched by Mendelism. 
The problem of the creativeness of Evolution in the origin of 
species, and in organic progress generally, lies beyond the 
province of Mendelism. Mendelism deals with results 
already achieved by Evolution, and not with the creative 
process by which they are achieved. No doubt it may and 
in due course will incidentally throw important sidelights 
on the mysterious creative process; but it will probably 
be no more than sidelights. In other words, Mendelism is 
not the real method or path of organic Evolution, but at 
best only an important side-track. This is not intended 
as a reflection on the science of Genetics, but only to place 
it in a proper perspective in the whole field of organic 


Having ruled out Mendelism, can we accept De Vries' 
Mutation as the ordinary method of Creative Evolution? 
Mutation takes place when specific or varietal characters 
appear, not as the result of a slow age-long summation of 
small variations, but at one bound, with a great leap of one 
generation to the next. An individual of species X produces 
offspring which constitute a stable variety or a new species Y . 
De Vries saw this happening in the case of cultivated 
(Enothera lamarckiana growing wild in a potato-field at 
Hilversum in Holland. Other instances have been observed 
by other investigators. It is objected that De Vries' 
(Enothera was perhaps a cultivated artificial hybrid, with 
mixed qualities, like the ab's of the Mendelians, and that 
all he observed was the emergence of pure qualities from 
this mixture; in other words, not the emergence of new 
characters but the setting free and unmasking of concealed 
or latent characters already existing. Other criticisms also 
have been levelled at the Mutation theory which it is not 
necessary for our purpose to consider here. In spite of 
these criticisms it is practically certain that mutations do 
take place in the course of Evolution. But while they almost 
certainly happen on special occasions, they are not common, 
and do not constitute the ordinary method of organic Evo- 
lution. On rare occasions there is a saltus, a creative leap 
forward from one generation to another. A species having 
long balanced itself precariously on the edge of a great 
change suddenly makes the jump, secures a foothold on the 
edge of the other side, and marks the beginning of a new 
variety or species. But it can at best only be an exceptional 
if not a rare effort on the part of Nature. These sudden long 
jumps can only be very occasional, and not the normal 
course or procedure in the origin of species. Otherwise we 
w r ould certainly see more of them, and they would not be 
the subject of doubt or dispute. The rarity of their observa- 
tion points to the rarity of their occurrence. And they 
must be largely confined to cultivated artificial species or 
varieties which are more unstable and violently variable 
than natural species or varieties. Mutation in wild nature 


is an occasional and exceptional occurrence, and is not the 
ordinary procedure of Evolution. 1 

Having thus ruled out both Mendelism and De Vries' 
Mutation as the usual method of creative Evolution, we 
now come back to the earlier Germ-cell theory of Weismann, 
who initiated it and through it the second phase of Dar- 
winism, and thus became, and still remains, the second most 
important figure in the history of Darwinism. His great 
and essential service consisted in this, that he found the 
real source of Evolution in the inner factor of Variation, 
and that he traced this factor to its seat in the germ-cells 
of the organism. Not the outward mechanical struggle and 
clash of organisms, but the penetralia of their deeply hidden 
and sheltered germ-cells were the mysterious, spontaneous, 
independent and original source of all organic development 
and of the origin of species. Of course this theory became 
possible only by reason of the rapid advance in the know- 
ledge of the cells, and especially of the part they play in 
reproduction. But on the basis of that new knowledge the 
theory became quite simple and indeed inevitable. The 
body-cells of advanced organisms have no part or lot 
in reproduction, and the seat of all organic variations 
must therefore be looked for in the reproductive cells 
of the parents. All organic progress was thus traced 
back to the inmost nature of the organism itself, and 
not to the environment or any mere external factor. 
This is the essential truth in the hypothesis of Weismann, 
and this constitutes his real and lasting contribution to the 
theory of Evolution. The mysterious Variation which 
forms the inner factor of Evolution has its seat and source 
in the fructified ovum or germ-cell from which the new life 
begins. There and nowhere else take place the great play 

1 Professor J. P. Lotsy, who bases Evolution on hybridisation 
between varieties and species, and has made a survey of the flora of 
several countries from this point of view, has come to the conclusion 
that hybrids are by no means uncommon in Nature, and that a fair 
percentage of natural species, usually classed as such, are really 
hybrids. Both Mendelian and experimental species such as those 
which T. H. Morgan has bred in the fruit-fly Drosophila are held by 
Lotsy to be nothing but hybrids. 


and inter-play of forces, tendencies and influences which 
shape the destinies of life in organic development. This is 
not the whole story, but it is important; it is indeed 

Weismann drew a sharp distinction between the individual 
and the race, between the body-cells which constitute the 
one and the germ-cells which are the carriers of the other. 
According to him the race or species is continued unbroken 
in the substance of the germ-cells, which flow on as a con- 
tinuous stream from one generation to the next. From these 
racial germ-cells are differentiated the body-cells in the 
individual life, both in its ante-natal and post-natal stages. 
After the differentiation has taken place in the fructified 
ovum, there is, according to him, practically no connection 
between the germ-cells and the resulting body-cells which 
build up the individual, except in so far as the former 
are nourished through the latter. The individual becomes 
separated from the race factor, and becomes an inde- 
pendent growth from it, becomes, so to say, an excrescence 
or epiphyte on the race, which continues in the germ- 
cells uninfluenced by the fate or the development of 
the individual. This complete severance and indepen-, 
dence of the individual from the germinal constitution 
from which it has sprung is a distinctive tenet of 
Weismannism. It embodies a profound truth, which we 
recognise in the freedom and independence of individuality. 
But at the same time it makes the severance of the racial 
and individual elements in the whole too great, and it ignores 
important reciprocal influences between them which main- 
tain a certain balance between individual and racial develop- 
ment. To these points we shall have occasion to return. 
Here it is instructive to note that for Weismann the sharp 
distinction between the individual and the germ-cells, from 
which it sprang and which it carries forward for the race, 
was based on his view of the nature and constitution of 
these germ-cells. These cells contained the hereditary 
constitution of the race or species, and in so far registered 
the past, and made the past an operative factor in the 


present. They also embodied the mechanism of variation 
and thus linked the future with the past in the continuity 
of the race. In a way, therefore, the germ-cells, unin- 
fluenced by the ephemeral and accidental influences of the 
individual life, contained in their wonderful constitution 
not only the present but also the past and in a measure the 
future of the race. They were eternal, self-contained units, 
carrying their future and their past in themselves, unin- 
fluenced by the accidents of their environment. The 
individual was a mere bit of bread cast on the waters of 
destiny, to be lost utterly, or to be found after many days. 
But the past and the future of the race dwelt sublime and 
secure in the eternal sanctuary of the germ-cell. 

Such was the great Weismann conception, which in effect 
largely withdrew creative Evolution from the arena of exter- 
nal conflict and the mechanical struggle for existence, and 
located its origins in the secluded depths of the inner world 
of the germ-cell. And this great conception was based on 
Weismann's view of the mechanism of the germ-cell, on 
which a great deal of light has since been thrown by experi- 
mental research and observation. 

Without going into details we may just note that the 
chromosomes of the dividing nucleus have been identified 
as on the whole the carriers of the hereditary characters of 
organisms; these characters have to some extent been 
correlated with distinct chromosomes, and the number, 
shape, size and other differences of chromosomes in 
the nucleus of the germ-cell are therefore taken to be the 
physical basis of the characters which distinguish the 
species. It has been found necessary to go further and tOi 
assume in the chromosomes themselves active elements or 
factors or genes which are productive of organic characters. 
These researches and speculations are still in their initial 
stages, but they are important and have this advantage, 
that the results of intercrossing and hybridising in producing 
a change of characters can be studied in conjunction with 
the simultaneous change in number and form of chromosomes. 
In the prosecution of experimental Evolution the parallelism 


of cell structure and of variation in organic characters thus 
supplies a double weapon of attack. 

While the germ-cell as the mechanism of heredity is easily 
understood, the question still remains how it operates as 
the sole and independent cause of Variation. The inter- 
mixture of chromosomes from two separate individuals in 
sexual reproduction, and the changes in the chromosome 
contents of the reproductive cells in their previous meiotic 
division, undoubtedly provide the occasion for a great 
intermixture of parental elements and are thus potent sources 
of Variation. But Variation operates even apart from and 
in the absence of sexual reproduction and the related meiotic 
divisions of the germ-cells. And the question remains 
whether the individual life is, in fact, so isolated from the 
germ-cell that it has no influence on the latter and the 
resulting offspring. On this isolation Weismann was par- 
ticularly insistent, and in the popular mind his teaching is 
identified with the doctrine that acquired characters are 
not transmissible. The principle of the non-transmissibility 
of organic modifications (as above defined) rests on empirical 
experience, as no clear and indisputable case of the passing 
of such individual modifications to the offspring has been 
recorded or observed. Weismann's germ-cell theory was 
intended to supply the scientific basis for this negative result; 
but in the end he so completely isolated the germ-cell from 
the rest of the individual organism that he came to consider 
it practically impossible that modifications could become 
hereditary, or that somatic cells could in any way, except 
through nourishment, influence the germ-cells. 

There can be little doubt that in adopting this extreme 
standpoint Weismann went too far. He not only cut clean 
away from the Darwinian tradition, but also, in fact, made 
it impossible to understand the double fact of progress and 
adaptation ; in other words, to understand how the experi- 
ence of the race, which after all is only accumulated individual 
experience, helps to promote development, and to mould it 
in congruity with the environment. Unless the " trial and 
error " experiments of individuals produce some racial 


result ; if, in other words, every individual throughout the 
ages has to begin to learn once more at the beginning, organic 
progress becomes unintelligible, if not impossible. The 
extreme isolation and independence which Weismann 
attributed to the germ-cell therefore led to a further hypo- 
thesis intended to give the individual some sort of indirect 
influence in shaping racial evolution. He assumed that a 
struggle for existence took place among the elements or 
genes inside the nucleus of the germ-cell for the food that 
came from the body-cells, that Natural Selection was thus 
already at work inside the germ-cell, and that it was the 
vigorous, well-fed surviving genes that shaped the course 
of the resulting variation in the direction to which the 
individual had thus contributed. In this way the body- 
cells and the individual modifications of the parent might 
have some vague and indirect influence on the germ-cells 
and their offspring. This arbitrary and unsatisfactory 
hypothesis has found no favour and probably amounts to 
no more than a confession of failure on the part of Weis- 
mann to maintain his doctrine in its extreme form. To 
transfer the venue of the struggle of existence from an arena 
where we can watch and observe it among organisms to the 
inner arcana of the germ-cells, where it is beyond observation 
and where its operation, if any, is pure guesswork, is not a 
helpful hypothesis, and can only be a last desperate resort 
of a theory in distress. Weismann no doubt felt the difficulty 
keenly, but he saw no way out of it, and his hypothesis of 
Germinal Selection was no way out. 

The dilemma is indeed a most formidable one, not only 
for Weismann but also for all current views of Darwinism. 
On the one hand, there is the negative evidence, the absence 
of any clear and incontrovertible case where mere individual 
modifications have been transmitted to offspring. On the 
other hand, there are the very numerous cases where the 
disappearance of certain characters can only be satisfactorily 
explained on the assumption that modifications due to 
disuse of an organ have become hereditary. Again, there 
are the still more numerous cases where parts of the body 


have been constantly used in certain ways and have finally 
become specialised organs with which animals are now born 
ready-made. There is also the class of cases mentioned 
by Herbert Spencer in his controversy with Weismann and 
never satisfactorily answered, where, for instance, the 
sensitiveness of the finger or tongue (now hereditary) is 
compared with the much smaller sensitiveness of the back 
or other parts of the body, which have never been used as 
an organ of touch or taste. Above all, there is the difficulty, 
one might almost say the impossibility, of understanding 
organic Evolution, if its advance depends upon mere for- 
tuitous variations in reproduction, and remains uninfluenced 
by the work, the experience, the learning through trial and 
error and the consequent modifications of the individuals 
which compose a race or species. While it is admitted 
and intelligible that mere artificial and singular modifica- 
tions, such as cutting off the tails of dogs or sheep continu- 
ously for thousands of years, will have no germinal and no 
hereditary effect, the case may apparently be quite different 
with modifications which are due to the frequent or constant 
activity of the animal, and which register the routine of 
its life. Such modifications are far more intimate to the 
animal organism, and may in the course of time produce 
such a deep impression on the body-cells as to penetrate to 
and reach even the germ-cells, and register a change there 
which leads thereafter to hereditary and apparently 
spontaneous variation. 

Apart from Weismann's extreme doctrine of germinal 
isolation, which even he by implication appears to have 
found untenable, there is nothing in principle directly 
negativing such an assumption, and it does render intelligible 
the progressive evolution and specialisation of bodily organs 
which on any other assumption it is most difficult to under- 
stand. The absence of direct experimental evidence in 
support of this view is not a fatal objection. The laboratory 
of Nature is very different from that of experimental research. 
Life has not been made in the latter but was made in the 
former. The slow intimate operations extending over 


thousands and even millions of years, such as brought about 
most of the organic species of which we know, are not 
on a par with our latter-day researches in experimental 
evolution. With all our chemical knowledge we can yet 
never hope to rival in our laboratories the results which 
Nature has through the countless ages achieved, say, in 
the crucible of the geological record. Still less can we 
hope to achieve through biological experiments in the 
laboratory what her silent processes have amounted to 
through millions of years. 1 

If we set aside this negative and really irrelevant evidence, 
and also reject Weismann's extreme doctrine of germinal 
isolation, we find nothing in theory or fact to preclude us 
from viewing modifications as having an influence through 
more or less long biological periods on the germ-cells. On 
the hypothesis of the " field " which we have found useful 
before, we may consider these somatic modifications as in 
the first instance influencing the field of the germ-cells, 
and only later and in the course of time becoming incor- 
porated from the field into the hereditary structure of the 

We come thus in effect to look upon modifications as partly 
the material from which variations have been formed. 

1 Even so, however, some experimental evidence seems to be 
forthcoming. In this connection the recent work of Harrison and 
others on Melanism in moths is very important. It was found that 
among English native moths species after species with pale ground 
colour gave rise to forms so heavily pigmented that they appeared 
in some cases to be dark grey and in others perfectly black. This 
melanism has been found in the coal areas of England, Germany and 
even at Pittsburgh in the United States. The foliage of trees in the 
English area was found to contain relatively large quantities of salts 
of manganese, iron and other metals. Moths reared on food charged 
with a percentage of these compounds also developed melanism, 
which was transmitted to their offspring in the Mendelian ratios. 

So far as these significant experiments have gone, they tend to 
show that chemical changes in the environment of organisms may 
more readily lead to hereditary variations in them. In other words, 
migrations and other changes in habitat which lead to new sources 
and kinds of food may have an important bearing on the evolution 
of new characters and species. This chemical clue appears un- 
doubtedly to be an important one and deserving of being more 
widely followed up. 

(See Harrison's note in Nature, pp. 127-9, of 22nd January, 1927.) 


Modifications due to constant use or disuse, or to per- 
manent changes in the conditions of physical environment, 
influence in the first instance the field of the germ-cell, 
and are thus the earlier phase of the later hereditary 
structural variations. In fact we may say that modi- 
fications are to variations what variations are to specific 
characters. Throughout organic Nature we find this 
grand calculus at work, adding up and conserving what- 
ever in the experience and development of the individual 
is of survival value to the race, and carrying on this 
organic summation with a fineness and delicacy sur- 
passing that of any mere mechanical calculus. What is 
not incorporated into the hereditary structure remains 
conserved in the invisible " field " until it is finally accen- 
tuated enough to become so incorporated. Nothing of 
value is lost traces and residua of organic reactions, 
reflexes and tropisms, instincts and intelligence, all are 
conserved or registered in the field until in the lapse of 
time they are ready to become part of the physical structure. 
There is no reason, except our ignorance of the facts, why 
modifications should not thus to a large extent be the con- 
ditions precedent of variations. Only in this way can we 
explain why the trend of Variation is on the whole in 
harmony with the experience and the past of animate Nature, 
why Evolution makes steps in advance on the road on which 
it is already moving, instead of making incalculable twists 
and turns, as it might do if its course was merely dependent 
on purely accidental, arbitrary and unmotivated variations. 
That modifications of a certain intimate bodily character, 
and continued through many generations, may in the end 
influence the germ-cells and even modify their hereditary 
structure is easier for us to appreciate than it was for Weis- 
mann. It is only recently that we have learnt to understand 
the important functions which the hormones given off by 
the ductless glands perform in the regulation and balance 
of our whole animal economy. We now know that the 
germ-cells, so far from being independent of the developed 
system of body-cells, have even apart from their reproductive 


functions a most intimate regulative effect in co-ordinating 
the functioning of the bodily system as a whole. If there 
is this open door between them, there is no reason why 
there may not be the reverse influence of the body-cells on 
the germ-cells. 1 

This question of the way in which non-hereditary 
modifications are conserved brings us to another difficulty 
which Evolutionists have found it very hard to explain on 
the accepted Darwinian principles. I refer to the natural, 
selection of small variations. How can small variations 
be selected and conserved in the struggle for existence until 
they are marked enough to become specific ? To begin with, 
they are so small that it is difficult to understand that they 
have any survival value at all. Take an organ which is being 
differentiated from the rest of the body-cells. At the be- 
ginning any variation must be utterly insignificant and practi- 
cally valueless in the struggle for life, and Natural Selection 
has really nothing to work on. How then could an animal 
with such a minute variation be selected as being more 
adapted to its environment ? It is this awkward question 
which has led to the hypothesis that very marked varieties 
or mutations alone are selected. Various more or less 
ingenious attempts have been made to answer this question, 

1 The recent experiments of Professor Pavlov on the associative 
memory of white mice are also interesting, and though the correct- 
ness of their results has been doubted they indicate important clues 
to be followed up by further research. 

An electric bell was rung while the mice were feeding. It was 
found that a firm association was built up after this process had 
been repeated 300 times ; that is to say, after that the mice looked 
for their food whenever the bell was rung. For the first generation 
offspring of these mice a less arduous lesson was necessary : after 
150 rings the association was established. For the second genera- 
tion offspring only 30 rings were necessary ; while for the third filial 
generation only five rings were necessary to establish the association. 
In other words, the acquired experience of the parents made the 
acquisition of similar experience progressively easier for their off- 
spring. An attempt to repeat these experiments is said to have 
failed. No conclusions can therefore be based on them for the 
present. Of course, should corroboration be forthcoming, these 
experiments would be most important as throwing light on Evolu- 
tion as progressive facilitation of experience ; in other words, on the 
inheritance of educability or psychic experience. 


but to my mind they are all more or less unsatisfactory. 
The result is that we cannot understand how the Darwinian 
machinery of Natural Selection is set in motion in any 
particular case. Once individuals with marked specific or 
varietal differences exist in superabundance, we can under- 
stand why the struggle for existence between them will 
take place and Natural Selection become operative. But 
on Darwinian principles as ordinarily understood these 
marked differences between individuals can only arise from 
a prior selection as between variations so minute that there 
is apparently nothing sufficiently substantive for Natural 
Selection to work on. In other words, Natural Selection 
will move all right when once set in motion, but Darwinism 
fails to set it in motion. 

In my view the difficulty can only be satisfactorily removed 
by the principle of Holism, as I shall just now proceed to 
explain. In the meantime, however, I wish to point out 
how my suggestion that the modifications influence the 
field of germ-cells and prepare the way for variations can 
prove helpful to Darwinism in its plight. According to that 
suggestion the small initial variation does not stand by itself, 
and on its own merits, so to speak. It appears powerfully 
supported in the struggle for existence. Individual use and 
practice for very many generations are on its side. It does 
not appear as a stray, helpless infant in a hostile world. It 
appears in a friendly, one might say, in a prepared universe. 
It has a stalwart nurse in the use and routine of the indi- 
vidual in whom it appears. It is protected, shielded and 
in its struggle reinforced, by this constant use and routine. 
A small variation in the direction of a nascent organ, for 
instance, finds itself in line with the traditional use of 
generations of individuals which powerfully support it in 
the struggle with contrary variations. Under the shelter 
of this use it develops and beats its competitors, until in 
the end it can fend for itself and engage in the struggle on 
its own account. 

This explanation applies not only to variations in develop- 
ing organs which are supported by use and practice on the 


part of a long line of individuals. It applies also to cases 
where permanent changes in the physical conditions impress 
themselves continuously on the organism. The growth- 
forms of plants, for instance, under particular ecological 
conditions are such as almost to render necessary the view 
that ecological modifications, due to the direct, silent, long- 
continued pressure of the environment, finally become varia- 
tions. The sameness or close resemblance of the growth-forms 
under the same physical conditions, as seen, for instance, in 
the general characters of formations and associations in 
the vegetable kingdom, is probably in a measure due 
to the age-long operation of ecological factors which have 
impressed themselves on plant development and have 
produced modifications which finally have become variations. 1 
The resulting general features of formations and associations 
are no doubt in part due to Natural Selection, but in part 
the physical environment has probably exercised a direct pres- 
sure all its own and produced an effect which has powerfully 
reinforced the results of Natural Selection. The hereditary 
variation ultimately appears, but it does so not accidentally 
or from the blue, but from the long-continued stimulus 

1 While this book was going through the press I was much 
interested to see this view corroborated by certain observations of 
Professor F. O. Bower in Evolution in the Light of Modern Know- 
ledge (p. 206). After discussing the evolutionary structures of 
ferns he continues : "It would seem a natural interpretation of 
the facts that the characters (under discussion), acquired by a 
direct impress upon a succession of individual lives, should have 
been imposed hereditarily upon each race. Naturally the reply 
may be made that probably mutations favourable to the perpetuation 
of the imposed character may have made that character permanent. 
If we grant that, do we not thereby simply admit that the distinction 
between fluctuating variations and mutations is not absolute ? 
In other words, that fluctuating variations repeatedly imposed upon 
successive generations are liable to become mutations ? It is 
difficult to see any other rational explanation of the wide-reaching 
facts of homoplastic adaptation, such as are shown with exceptional 
profusion in the ancient class of the ferns, and are evident in plants 
at large." (In this quotation fluctuating variations correspond to 
what have above been called modifications, while mutations corre- 
spond to what have been called variations.) The experiments of 
Kammerer and Durkhen on animals and plants would seem to 
tend in the same direction. But they require further corroboration, 
and have indeed been called seriously in question. 


of environmental conditions which have influenced and 
affected the field of the germ-cell. 

While some variations thus have their roots in the 
traditional use and practice of individuals or in the 
conditions of the physical environment, and can survive 
under the protection thus afforded them, many varia- 
tions cannot be thus accounted for, and probably 
originate in what appears to us as a spontaneous, indepen- 
dent, more or less sudden and accidental manner. The 
mode of their selection and survival has still to be accounted 
for. Before doing so it is advisable to mention a third set 
of difficulties which Darwinism encounters in its explanation 
of organic Evolution. I refer to the phenomena of co-ordina- 
tion and co-adaptation of organs and characters which it 
is almost impossible to account for satisfactorily on orthodox 
Darwinian lines. 

I have hitherto spoken of variations as if they came 
singly in the evolution of organisms. But they do appear 
but rarely as single units. Generally they appear in 
associated groups. A small variation is generally found to 
be accompanied by a number of still smaller associated 
variations. If an organ varies, the associated muscles, 
nerves and other body-cells undergo a corresponding varia- 
tion. The evolution of the horns of a wild beast, for 
instance, means minor and consequential adjustments to 
its head, its neck, its muscular system, the development of 
the forepart of the body, and its relation to the back parts, 
as well as to many other parts and details of its body. 
And when we come to consider the question, already so 
difficult, of the selection of a small variation in respect of 
such a horn, we are confronted with the still more hopeless 
difficulty of having at the same time to account for many 
other minor correlated variations, each of which has to be 
selected. Besides this, there is their joint and associated 
use or functioning which has also to be accounted for as a 
factor in their selection. We are obviously throwing a 
weight on the principle of Natural Selection which is more 
than it can bear. It is being arbitrarily and artificially 


applied far beyond the area of its natural and proper 
application. And here it is where Natural Selection breaks 
down completely. The whole body is a system of co-ordin- 
ated structures and functions, and its origin and development 
can only be represented as a complex movement forward in 
time of a mass of associated variations which have resulted 
in the most marvellous co-adaptation of structures and 
co-ordinated functions. Before the problem of this complex 
yet orderly evolution, Natural Selection stands baffled. 
It can deal with individuals and markedly formed and 
developed characters, but not with their delicately adjusted 
and associated infinitesimals. 

The fault, however, lies not so much with Natural Selec- 
tion, as with our fundamental organic conceptions. Our crude 
uncritical mechanistic conceptions are the real source of the 
difficulty, and Holism appears to me to be the way out. The 
root of the error lies in our disregard of the individual organ- 
ism as a living whole, and in our attempt to isolate characters 
from this whole and study them separately, as if they 
were mere mechanical components of this whole. The 
fatal mistake involved in this procedure has already been 
fully exposed in previous chapters. The whole is not a 
mechanical aggregate indifferent to and without influence 
on its parts. It is itself an active factor in controlling and 
shaping the functions of its parts. The parts bear the 
impress of its directive influence, without and apart from 
which it is vain to speculate on their characters and their 
activities. Whereas mechanical action is isolable and 
additive, so that the total activities of a system are repre- 
sented by the sum of all the individual activities, the situation 
is entirely different in the case of a living whole. Here all 
action, as we have seen, is holistic, not only that of the whole 
itself, but also that of the parts. The stamp of Holism is 
impressed on the activities of the parts no less than on the 
individual whole itself. The individual and its parts are 
reciprocally means and end to one another ; neither is merely 
self-regarding, but each supports the other in the moving 
dynamic equilibrium which is called life. And so it happens 


that the central control of the whole also maintains and 
assists the parts, and the functions of the parts are ever 
directed towards the conservation and fulfilment of the 
whole. With this conception of living unity and holistic 
action in an organism before us, let us try once more to read 
the riddle of Variation and Natural Selection as the twin 
factors in Evolution. 

In the first place we realise that each individual organism 
is a unitary system whose inmost nature is its own balanced 
self-maintenance and self-development as a whole. Here- 
dity is but the expression of this self-conservative character. 
The organism both as structure and field, while carrying 
with it the past which is its expressed self, also carries with 
it the still unrealised future which flows organically from 
that past, and it maintains a living, moving harmony 
between the two ; its presently existing self is the more or less 
harmonious realisation of the organic unity of its past and its 
future in its present. Variations arise as the tentacles it 
throws out under environmental stimulation towards the 
future, a stretching of hands dimly and unconsciously 
towards future adjustment, welfare and betterment. 
These variations, while apparently accidental and uncon- 
trolled, arise from the stimulus of the environment and 
are under the central control of the organism as a whole. 

Let us for a moment consider the appearance of a small 
variation. It is really neither spontaneous nor accidental. 
It is the expression of the moving, developing organism as 
a whole in a particular direction. It is normally conditioned 
by what has gone before in the history of the organism and 
is really of a piece with the organism as a whole. Nor does 
it as a rule appear alone. The organism as a whole is on 
the march, and while the variation may be the first and 
most significant indication of the inner movement, the 
advance is not confined to a single point, but is represented 
by a curve of progress on which other minor advances are 
registered at the same time. Thus variation A when 
closely scanned will be seen to be really more like A + b + 
c + d 9 where 6, c and d represent minor variations which 


adjust A in various respects to the organism. The appar- 
ently isolated variation is seen to be what it really is, an 
advance of the organism as a whole in a particular direction, 
a holistic as distinguished from a singular and mechanical 
variation or change. Mechanical analogies may assist us 
to understand to some extent what happens. A mechanical 
system of a given number of elements in equilibrium is 
given a push or blow with a certain force in a certain direc- 
tion. When it has recovered from the push or blow and 
is in equilibrium once more, it will be found that the change 
is not merely in the direction in which the force was applied, 
but that all the other elements have also been affected and 
have undergone adjustments in order to achieve the new 
equilibrium. The same happens, only much more intensely 
and intimately and organically, in the case of a change in a 
living whole. Variation A necessarily involves a number of 
collateral adjustments which are dependent on A, and are 
not independently originated or conserved. In other words, 
holistic variation or variation of a whole in any particular 
respect is the cause and carrier of minor variations which 
are not independently selected or conserved, and for which 
Natural Selection need not, therefore, be called into action. 
It is really the whole which does the " selection " in the 
exercise of its central control. We may call it a case of 
Holistic Selection as distinguished from external Natural 
Selection. Variation A of the whole, which is the expression 
of an inner urge of the whole and is therefore supported by 
the whole, carries with it the minor and consequential 
adjustments involved in variations b, c and d. 

This explains one of the main difficulties which we encoun- 
tered above the question, that is to say, of the selective 
co-ordination of subsidiary adjustments. But the main 
difficulty remains how variation A itself is selected after 
its appearance. How is the main small variation, perhaps 
too insignificant for Natural Selection to get a grip on, 
selected and conserved in the holistic system? If it were 
a mere accidental appearance, with nothing more behind it, 
it might be a toss up whether it is saved or lost, and generally 


it is lost. With the prodigality of life itself, organic changes 
are scattered broadcast like seeds, and most of them, with 
nothing particular in the urge of the organism behind them 
to give them continuous momentum, perish as soon as they 
are born. But some are in a different position; they are 
in the main direction of development, they are on the road, 
so to say, on which the organism is travelling; they have 
the whole weight of the organism behind them; they are 
nursed and cared for, figuratively speaking ; and in the end 
they survive. Once more a case of Holistic Selection as 
distinct from Natural Selection. And sometimes in these 
cases, as we have seen, the organism has long before the 
appearance of the variation begun to move in its direction. 
The functioning of the organism has anticipated its future 
structure. It has for many generations devoted a part of itself 
to a particular use ; the part has in consequence undergone 
modification; from an undifferentiated system of cells it 
has been modified in certain respects so as to anticipate an 
organ. When finally in the course of time this modification 
is superseded by and merged into an organic variation, it is 
in direct harmony with the needs and the practice of the 
organism as a whole; the practice continues along with 
the variation and becomes accentuated, the pressure of the 
needs of the organism is behind the variation and probably 
increases; and the variation, covered by the habitual 
practice of the organism, and urged forward by the organic 
needs, makes headway and has a fair chance of survival. 
It has a distinct advantage ; the dice are loaded in its favour 
by the nature, pressure and practice of the organism as a 
whole. These forces behind it are probably strong enough 
to keep it going, though only at the very slow pace at which all 
biological Evolution moves. Eventually, when it has developed 
enough to add a sensible measure of strength to the parent 
organism, it will reward its parent for its secular support, 
it will join forces with it, and fight a victorious battle against 
its competitors. At this stage the belated force of Natural 
Selection has arrived on the scene. But not earlier, the earlier 
phases having depended on what I call Holistic Selection. 


The Holistic Selection which acts within each organism 
in respect of its parts inter se is essentially different from 
the Natural Selection which operates between different 
organisms, which is more appropriately called the struggle 
for existence. Holistic Selection is much more subtle in 
its operation, and is much more social and friendly in its 
activity ; it puts the inner resources of the organism behind 
the promising variation, however weak and feeble it may 
be in comparison with other characters, and makes it win 
through powerful backing rather than through the ruthless 
scrapping of the less desirable variations. In the organism 
the battle is not always to the strong, nor is the struggle an 
unregulated scrimmage in which the most virile survive. 
The whole is all the time on the scene as an active friendly 
arbiter and regulator, and its favours go to those variations 
which are along the road of its own development, efficiency 
and perfection. 

The continuous Holistic Selection of small variations may 
be compared to the survival of obsolete organs in an organism. 
Both are carried forward by the organism as a whole, 
perhaps for millions of years, without being in either case 
directly useful to the organism. The whole, to speak meta- 
phorically, takes long views, both into the future and into 
the past ; and mere considerations of present utility do not 
weigh very heavily with it. It carries its infant variation 
with it in the same way that it carries the aged and dying 
members or atrophying organs. Both are borne along, 
covered and shielded by the main characters of the 
organism. From the point of view of survival value, 
as from so many other points of view, the whole is more 
important than any of its parts. And so it comes that 
the organism is a most complicated system, a present 
living unity embodying its far-away past no less than 
its dim distant future. The whole controls, guides and 
conserves all. The fate of any particular part, con- 
sidered by itself and on its own merits, would be an inexplic- 
able mystery, and might be expected to be the very opposite 
of what happens in practice. When, however, it is viewed 


from its position and function in the whole, the mystery is 
explained; we see how different the laws of life are from 
the laws of mechanics, and how wrong it is to apply mechan- 
istic and atomistic conceptions in a region where Holism 

To understand how a small variation is favoured, we may 
represent an organism as a moving developing equilibrium, 
which is never perfectly adjusted because it has a persistent 
slight overbalance in the direction of development. Com- 
plete equilibrium is never attained, and would be fatal if it 
were attained, as it would mean stagnation, atrophy and 
death. And so the overbalance in a certain direction or 
with a definite orientation continues indefinitely, and all 
small developments and adjustments and " variations " 
which have that specific orientation have the momentum of 
the whole behind them and tend to survive and grow while 
others in other directions are dropped and discarded. One 
may accordingly say that in each case " the whole " is a 
co-worker with its small variations which will eventually be 
useful ; that as an active factor its influence is on the side 
of such small variations, and that with this inner nurture 
and support these small variations are in their infant stages 
practically independent of external support for their survival 
and steady evolution. 

The activity of the whole is seen not only in the main- 
tenance and evolution of the small variation and all the 
subordinate adjustments that go with it, but also and 
especially in all the innumerable co-ordinations and co-adap- 
tations in structure and function which constitute a living 
organism. I believe it is generally admitted that this 
phenomenon of organic co-ordination is one which cannot 
be satisfactorily explained on mechanical principles. The 
functioning of an animal as a whole has something unique 
about it, and the term " whole " in this connection is no 
mere phrase but a fact of vital significance. We have 
already considered the matter fully in Chapter VI. Here 
we shall only add that to suppose that Natural Selection has 
not only brought about the separate organs of animals and 


their functions, but also accounts satisfactorily for their 
adjustments to each other and their co-ordinated activities 
in the animal behaviour, is to suppose what certainly has 
never been and cannot be explained in detail, and what 
probably is in conflict with the facts of development. Intel- 
ligent and purposive action of a human or other animal 
cannot be explained on mechanical principles; nor can 
instinctive action, not even reflex or organic activities and 
functions below the level of instinct or intelligence. An 
animal even of the lowest type makes an unconscious 
effort to catch food or beat an enemy, and in the process 
performs a large number of acts which are all effectively 
co-ordinated towards the attainment of its object. No 
mechanical explanation of this process of co-ordinated move- 
ments has ever been given. The animal acts as a whole, 
with a unity and effectiveness of action which is no mere 
mechanical composition of its movements. The concept 
of the whole is the only category that will explain such unity, 
and we have seen good reason in previous chapters to go 
further and to infer that Holism is not merely a category 
or concept, but a fact and a factor of far-reaching signifi- 
cance. Co-ordination and co-adaptation in organic structure 
and behaviour cannot be explained on any other ground. 

So far we have considered Holism as creative of variations ; 
and as regulating and co-ordinating groups of actualised 
variations and organic characters generally. But this by 
no means exhausts the function of Holism in organic develop- 
ment. It is not only productive of variation, it is just as 
much repressive of variation. Holism is as often inhibitive 
as creative; it keeps back certain elements at the same 
time that it pushes forward others, and in this way secures 
a balanced movement and progress of the organic whole. 
When, for instance, the form and characteristics of a gorilla 
are compared with the human type it becomes clear that in 
the human evolution certain tendencies have been held 
definitely in check, and the utter caricature in appearance, 
which would have resulted from unrestrained development, 
has thus been prevented. Nobody who ignores this negative 


aspect of Evolution can possibly understand the present 
forms of animals, compared with their living or fossil affilia- 
tions. Tendencies to variation, which were realised in the 
case of Neanderthal man, have been more or less severely 
repressed in the present human races. If there had been, 
unrestrained evolution of all potential variations, the results 
would have been truly dreadful in their grotesqueness. In 
fact we find at work in organic Evolution an influence not 
unlike that which at a much later stage we recognise as the 
ethical control of feelings, impulses and instinctive move- 
ments of an undesirable character. The whole in personality, 
the whole in its ethical flowering in the human, means not 
only expression of certain moral qualities, but also and 
equally repression of others. Elements and tendencies 
which we find strongly operative in our instinctive or organic 
nature we have to keep in check, to hold down severely, and 
to prevent from emergence in our characters as a whole. 
This is the very essence of Holism in its mature ethical 
development. There is something very similar and equally 
fundamental in the activity of Holism in the earlier purely 
organic phases of Evolution. In any individual organism 
the whole is in control, pushing forward some tendencies 
and keeping back others, expressing some variations and 
repressing others, and through all maintaining a mobile 
equilibrium of all the elements, positive and negative, that 
are uniquely blended in the individual. Thus it is that if 
we wish to understand the details of organic Evolution in 
any particular case we should look for the repressions no 
less than for the variations; it is the combination of the 
two which constitutes Evolution. 

I shall no doubt be asked what experimental verification 
there is for the holistic view of Evolution here set forth. 
My answer is to repeat what I have already said : that 
natural Evolution as distinguished from experimental 
Evolution is a process, not of the hour or the day, but of 
geological time, and that the results, matured and con- 
solidated through immemorial periods, cannot be repeated 
or rehearsed by short-dated laboratory experiments, 


conducted too under conditions very different from those of 
Nature. These experiments, however valuable and instruc- 
tive in affording subsidiary clues and hints of the natural 
process, do not by any means exhaust or even seriously 
affect the real problem of creative Evolution ; and a correct 
view of Evolution must have regard to this difference and 
be based on an intelligent appreciation of the natural 
processes rather than on the very limited data yielded by 
our laboratory experiments. There is no doubt that experi- 
mental Evolution has, through its unavoidable limitations, 
greatly blurred the great Darwinian vision of organic Evolu- 
tion, and instead of making us more fully realise its truth 
and effectiveness and grandeur as a whole, has tended to 
deflect our attention to particular problems which are 
special and limited enough to be capable of laboratory 
treatment. The special and exceptional cases of Mutation 
and Hybridisation come to be looked upon as covering the 
entire process of organic Evolution. My endeavour in this 
chapter has been, through a re-examination of the position 
thus created, to explore and reconnoitre a way back to the 
broader and wider view of Evolution. And in doing so I 
have sought the assistance of a concept which we have 
found at work, not only in organic Evolution, but in all 
organic structures and processes and even, to a limited 
extent, in inorganic Nature itself. I shall now briefly 
summarise the results we have reached in this chapter in 
order thus to see how they bear on the wide Darwinian 
conception from which we started. 

The relative importance of the internal and external 
factors in Evolution has materially altered since Darwin's 
time. Variation has become much more important than 
Natural Selection, not only in biological studies and experi- 
mental researches, but also in our view of it as an operative 
factor in organic Evolution. While remaining a substantial 
and important factor Natural Selection has yielded pride 
of place to Variation. The factor of intense struggle and 
competition in Nature on which Darwin, following the 
Malthusian clue, laid so much stress is now seen not 


only to have less importance relatively, but also to bear 
a somewhat different character from what it had in 
Darwin's view. The struggle for existence is, like Muta- 
tion, an exceptional and not the usual procedure of 
organic Nature. This world is at bottom a friendly universe, 
in which organised tolerant co-existence is the rule and 
destructive warfare the exception, resorted to only when the 
balance of Nature is seriously disturbed. Normally Natural 
Selection takes the form of comradeship, of social co- 
operation and mutual help. Normally also the organic 
struggle is very much in abeyance, and the silent, effortless, 
constant pressure of the physical and organic environment 
exercises a very powerful influence. The young science of 
Ecology has been built up since Darwin's time and is based 
on the recognition of this fact, that, in addition to the 
operation of Natural Selection, the environment has a silent, 
assimilative, transformative influence of a very profound 
and enduring character on all organic life. In the subtle 
ways of Nature, sun and earth, night and day, and all the 
things of earth and air and sea mingle silently with life, 
sink into it and become part of its structure. And in 
response to this profound stimulus life grows and evolves, 
the lesser whole in harmony with the greater whole of 

The interaction between the inner and the outer factors 
in Evolution is far more close and subtle than one would 
infer from Darwinism, either in its earlier or its later (Weis- 
mann) form. It is not merely a case of one factor creating 
variations, and another eliminating some of these creations 
and leaving free the rest, which are then said to be selected 
for perpetuation. The inner creative factor in a measure 
acts directly under the stimulus of the external factor, and 
the variations which emerge are the result of this intimate 
interaction. The isolation of the inner from the outer factor, 
which was so much emphasised by Weismann, is, in spite 
of its apparent agreement with observation, really a mis- 
taken assumption, based on the neglect of the factor of 
time in Evolution. Environment is a great stimulus of 


variation, and even more so is the somatic organism itself, 
which is closer to the germ-cell than the environment. 

We can only understand the process of organic Evolution if 
we assume that, deeply as the germ-cell carriers of Variation 
are hid from external contacts, they are not completely or for 
ever isolated therefrom ; that changes due to habitual be- 
haviour or to environmental or chemical or ecological pressure 
affect the " field " of the germ-cells, and if sufficiently long- 
continued and intense, sooner or later penetrate the structures 
of these germ-cells, and stimulate and set in motion the in- 
ternal factor of Variation. The response comes back in a crisis 
of variation or mutation which permanently alters the internal 
hereditary structure. In these cases the inner and outer 
factors of Evolution do not operate independently and by 
opposed and contrasted methods; they collaborate in the 
closest manner as the stimulus and response which we find 
distinctive of all organic action. From this external factor, 
which operates as a stimulus of organic variation, we have 
to distinguish Darwin's Natural Selection, which is another 
external factor operative not in connection with the stimula- 
tion of variations, but in connection with their subsequent 
elimination or destruction, and acting like a sieve through 
which all life has to pass on pain of destruction. The 
external factors in Evolution are therefore according to this 
view twofold ; the environmental or ecological factor which 
to some extent influences or induces variation, and the 
factor of organic struggle which sets in motion the warfare 
among organisms for the limited goods of life, which Darwin 
called Natural Selection. 

But it is only in certain classes of cases that the " use " 
factor or the external or ecological stimulus of variation 
comes into action ; in others the stimulus of variation is 
entirely internal, and must be found in the fresh mix- 
ture and readjustment of the chromatin elements of the 
germ-cell nucleus at certain critical stages in the evolutionary 
process, such as in the sexual reproduction of some organ- 
isms, or the endomixis and rejuvenescence which occur at 
certain stages in others. 


This internal factor in Variation and Evolution was 
stressed, and rightly stressed, by Weismann, and has 
supplied a suggestive clue for the researches in Genetics 
which have been conducted since his day. But the view of 
this factor as purely mechanical must lead to great diffi- 
culties in detail, and make it impossible to understand the 
process of organic Evolution as a whole. I have therefore 
endeavoured to stress the contrary view of this inner factor, 
and to show that it is holistic in character and operation, 
that it thus solves the difficulties which the mechanistic 
hypothesis has created for itself, and that it leads to a 
reconciliation of the two factors operative in Evolution. 
Holism has thus once more, though in a way different from 
that envisaged by Darwin, brought us back to the great 
Darwinian vision of universal adaptation. 1 

But Holism has done more; it has enabled us to realise 
the pervasive creative unity which makes all the diverse 
elements of existence the co-operative members and 
inhabitants of an essentially friendly universe. Operating 
as the inner creative factor at the heart of things, it has led 
to the evolution of a universe in which all the factors and 
products, organic and inorganic alike, are not alien to and 
destructive of each other, but are capable of mutual adapta- 
tion and adjustment, just because they own a common 
origin and have an indisputable, though often scarcely 
recognisable, family relationship. This is not to assume a 
Pre-established Harmony, which would be as great a mistake 
in one direction as the contrary and more usual mechan- 
istic assumption that universal adaptation and organic 

1 I am afraid that the current " gene " theory, especially as it is 
being worked out and applied by Professor T. H. Morgan and others 
in their important researches, is far too deeply tainted with mechan- 
istic elements. They search for organic change in individual genes 
rather than in the intra-organic field or milieu of interacting and 
mutually modifying functionings. There may soon be more of the 
hypothetical " genes " than the nucleus or the chromosomes can 
bear. Here too the concept of the whole as the centre and source 
of modifications in a network of connected influences and functions 
may appear as the way out of the difficulty. The organic or holistic 
concept should be faithfully applied in all its subtle implication and 
should not be translated into a sort of chemistry of genes. 


co-ordination are in effect the accidental results of utterly 
unconnected factors would be in the other direction. The 
true conception not only for philosophy but also for science 
is that of parts in a whole. It is the high task of science to 
explore the mechanisms of adaptation and variation in all 
their details, and to pursue at all costs the chemistry and 
physics of the cell, of which we still know so little. But 
in doing so it must also explore the unifying, regulating, 
co-ordinating activity of the holistic factor, which even 
from a purely scientific point of view is just as important 
as the study of the special mechanisms. Above all, biological 
science must ever keep before itself the standpoint of the 
whole, without and apart from which all the details so 
far from being recognised as being organic to each other 
are mere loose meaningless items, like the sands of the sea- 
shore, utterly useless for the understanding of that unique 
unity which constitutes an organic individual. The whole 
is the ultimate category not only of organic explanation, 
but also of organic adaptation and evolution. And it is 
more than a category; as the creative factor of inner 
structural and functional control operative in all existence, 
it is the ultimate real in the universe and the creative source 
of all reality, whether organic or inorganic. Nay, more : 
Holism is also creative of all values. Take the case of 
organic Beauty. It is undeniable that Beauty rests on a 
holistic basis. Beauty is essentially a product of Holism 
and is inexplicable apart from it. Beauty is of the whole; 
Beauty is a relation of parts in a whole, a blending of 
elements of form and colour, of foreground and background, 
of expression and suggestion, of structure and function, of 
structure and field, which is perceived and appreciated as 
harmonious and satisfying, according to laws which it is 
for ^Esthetics to determine. 

It may be a question how far the phenomena of repression 
in conjunction with expression in organic Evolution, of 
regulated development as a whole, of beauty and of similar 
phenomena can be properly subsumed under the Darwinian 
factors. Perhaps it is better to recognise that there is 


something wider and deeper at work in Evolution than the 
factors as found by Darwin and his successors, something of 
which those factors are themselves but an expression. 
The whole is itself an active factor, and its activity as such 
explains phenomena which it is difficult if not impossible 
to account for in any other way without very forced inter- 
pretations. The inner sources of wealth and beauty in 
Nature are inexhaustible, and they are poured forth with 
a lavish hand in the creative process of Evolution. Not 
merely survival values on Darwinian lines count; on the 
foundation of variations with survival value is raised a 
superstructure of development which far transcends that 
narrow basis. Mind in its marvellous human efflorescence 
rests no doubt on a basis of survival value ; but how much 
more it is than that ! The glories of art and literature, the 
peace of the mystic religious experience, the creative Ideals 
which lift this life beyond the limitations of its lowly origin 
all these experiences and developments have built a new 
spiritual world on the humble foundations of survival values. 
In the kingdom of life is visibly arising its capital, the City 
of God. Apart from the great human development, beauty 
in Nature tells the same tale. The song of birds, with its 
primary appeal to sex, but with so infinitely much more in 
it than the mere sex-appeal ; the glorious forms and colouring 
of birds and beasts and insects, which no doubt rise in and 
from the struggle for existence, but finally rise above it, 
and rob it of all its sordidness and drabness ; above all, the 
wonder of plants and flowers, which were meant for the 
eye of birds and insects, but which contain so infinitely 
much more than the eye of bird or insect ever beheld or 
ever can behold it is everywhere in Nature the same. 
Everywhere we see the great overplus of the whole. So 
little is asked; so much more is given. The female only 
asks for a sign to recognise the male, and to help her to 
select him and stick to him in preference to others. And 
for answer she gets an overpowering revelation of beauty 
out of all proportion to her modest request. The peahen 
has no discriminating understanding of the wondrous 


colouring of the peacock, which far transcends even our 
human powers; but in some inscrutable way something of 
an emotional nature in her takes it all in and is satisfied. 
It is deep calling unto deep ; it is the whole appealing to the 
whole. There is evidently more in all this than the Dar- 
winian factors can satisfactorily explain, and it would be 
both foolish and unscientific not to recognise this frankly. 
To me the conclusion of the matter is that the inexhaustible 
whole is itself at work, that Holism is an active factor 
influencing and interacting with the particular Darwinian 
factors, that not only its tendency but also its output far 
exceed the immediate present utilities and needs of organic 
Evolution, and that its bow is bent for the distant horizons, 
far beyond all human power of vision and understanding. 



Summary. Mind is, after the atom and the cell, the third great 
fundamental structure of Holism. It is not itself a real whole, 
but a holistic structure, a holistic organ, especially of Personality 
which is a real whole. 

Psychology treats mind in man and the higher animals as a factor 
or phenomenon by itself, and analyses it into various modes of 
activity, such as consciousness, attention, conception, feeling, 
emotion, will, etc. In this work Mind is viewed from a different 
angle ; it is a form of Holism and it is studied as a holistic structure, 
with a definite relation to other earlier holistic structures. It has, 
therefore, a much wider setting and performs more fundamental 
functions in the order of the universe than appears from Psychology. 

Mind springs from two roots. In the first place, it is a con- 
tinuation, on a much higher plane, of the system of organic regula- 
tion and co-ordination which characterises Holism in organisms. 

Mind is thus the direct descendant of organic regulation and 
carries forward the same task. This is the universalising side of 
Mind, and appears in the conceptual-rational or reasoning activity, 
which co-ordinates and regulates all experience. Its physical basis 
is the brain and neural system, which is the central system of 
regulation and co-ordination in the body. It is thus the crowning 
phase of the regulative, co-ordinative process of Holism. 

In the second place, Mind is a development of an " individual " 
aspect of Holism which already plays a subordinate part in organ- 
isms. In man it pushes to the front as conscious individuality or 
the Self of the Personality, and becomes as conspicuous a feature 
of developed Holism as regulative co-ordination, if not more so. 
This intense element of individuality is the principal novelty in 
the development of Mind, the real revolutionary departure from 
the prior system of regulative routine, and in Personality it cul- 
minates in a new order of wholes for the universe. Mind in its 
individual aspect is thus the chief means whereby organic Holism 
has developed into human Personality. 

Mind is in some respects as old as life, but life outran it in the 
race of Evolution. Besides, Mind needed life as a nurse, and its 
full development has therefore had to wait for that of life. The 



extraordinary self -regulation of organisms must, therefore, not be 
put to the credit of Mind, which was essentially a later development 
of Holism. 

Mind is traceable ultimately to inorganic affinities and organic 
selectivities. The " tension " of a body in disequilibrium gradually 
became covered with a vague " feeling " of discomfort, which had 
survival value ; instead of remaining a passive state it became 
active as ad-tension or attention, and ultimately consciousness. 
Interest became appreciable. Simultaneously the individual side of 
Mind developed as conation, seeking, experiment; and from this 
double basis Mind grew with phenomenal rapidity in the earlier 
species of the genus Homo. 

The individual self-conscious conative Mind is rightly stressed 
by psychology as the Subject of experience or the Self. In the 
universal system of order this individual appears as a disturbing 
influence, as a rebel against that order. But the rebel fights his 
way to victory, achieves plasticity and freedom, and is released from 
the previous regular routine of Holism. Mind thus through its 
power of experience and knowledge comes to master its own conditions 
of life, to secure freedom and to control the regulative system into 
which it has been born. Freedom, plasticity, creativeness become 
the keynotes of the new order of Mind. 

This is, however, only one side of mental evolution. Pari passu 
with this individual development the universalising conceptual- 
rational side of Mind also develops rapidly; its regulative Reason 
makes Mind a part of the universal order, and the individual and 
universal aspects of Mind mutually enrich and fructify each other, 
and on the level of human Personality result in the creation of a 
new ideal world of spiritual freedom. This union of the " indi- 
vidual " subjective Mind with the universal or rational Mind is 
possible because the individual Mind has itself arisen in the holistic 
regulative bosom, j Pure individualism is a misleading abstraction ; 
the individual becomes conscious of himself only in society and 
from knowing others like himself; his very capacity for conceptual 
experience results mostly from the use of the social instrument of 
language. The individual springs from universal Holism, and all 
his experience and knowledge ultimately tend towards the char- 
acter of regulative order and universality. Thus knowledge assumes 
in the first instance the form of an empirical order, as a system of 
common sense. /Gradually the discrepancies of this system are 
eliminated and knowledge approximates to science, to a scientific 
conceptual order, in which concepts and principles beyond empirical 
experience are assumed to underlie the world of experience. 1 The 
scientific world-conception marks the triumph of the universal 
element in Mind, but only on the basis of the freedom and control 
which the individual mind has mainly achieved. Mind as an organ 


of the whole, while taking its place in the universal order, has emanci- 
pated itself from the earlier routine of regulation and has assumed crea- 
tive control of its own conditions of life and development. Thus it 
creates its own environment in society, language, tradition, writing, 
literature, etc., instead of being dependent on an alien environment 
as on the organic level. Again, Mind frees itself from the intoler- 
able burden of organic inheritance by inheriting merely the widest, 
most plastic capacity to learn, and letting the social environment 
and tradition carry on the onerous duty of recording the past. 
While the animal is hidebound with its own hereditary characters, 
the human Personality is free to acquire a vast experience in his 
individual life. 

/Mind has its conscious illuminated area and its subconscious 
" field." In this field the forgotten experience of the individual 
life as well as the physiological and racial inheritance exercises a 
powerful influence. It is this influence that proves decisive for 
our fundamental bias, our temperament, our point of view, and 
our individual outlook on persons and things. It is of an intensely 
holistic unanalysable character; it is even possible that our neura] 
endowment carries with it more in the way of sensation and intui- 
tion than appears from the special senses; that the sensitive basis 
from which they have been diiferentiated has continued to develop 
pari passu with them and to-day forms a subtle holistic sense, a 
capacity of psychical sensing or intellectual intuition which explains 
our holistic sense of reality as well as other obscure phenomena, 
such as telepathy. So much for the influence of the past. The 
future also becomes a potent influence on Mind. Through its dual 
activity of conception and conation Mind forms " purposes " which 
envisage future situations in experience and make the future an 
operative factor in the present. Purpose marks the liberation of 
Mind from the domination of circumstances and indicates its free 
creative activity, away from the trammels of the present and the 
past. Through purpose Mind finally escapes from the house of 
bondage into the free realm of its own sovereignty. All through 
its great adventure its procedure is fundamentally holistic, and this 
can be shown by reference to the various activities of Mind as 
analysed by psychology. Free creative synthesis appears every- 
where in mental functioning, and not least in the region of Meta- 
physics, Ethics, Art and Religion, which, however, fall outside 
the scope of this work. . 

IN previous chapters Mind has often been mentioned 
as a factor in Evolution. In all the references only the 
well-known meanings and activities of Mind have been 
assumed, and my procedure in making use of the factor of 


Mind in anticipation of its full discussion is therefore not 
so objectionable as it might appear from a purely theoretical 
point of view. The successive phases of the whole so tele- 
scope into each other that it is impossible to treat each 
phase in a water-tight compartment, and any attempt to 
do so would only result in a distorted view of the subject 
as a whole. In dealing with matter we had to anticipate 
the coming development of life ; in dealing with life we had 
to anticipate the beginnings of the future development of 
Mind. So far from there being a disadvantage in this 
overflow of these concepts into each other's domain, a truer 
picture of reality results from such a treatment, which 
softens the contours of the somewhat too hard and artificial 
distinctions popularly drawn between them and helps to 
disclose the underlying unity which pervades them all. 
It is, however, advisable now to look at the factor of Mind 
more closely, to define its characters, and to study its 
functions as an organ and expression of Holism. 

It will be readily recognised that the problem of Mind 
is not for us the same as it is for the psychologist. Psycho- 
logy treats of the mind in man and the higher animals as 
a distinct phenomenon by itself, which it analyses and 
explores in its various elements, and which it studies as a 
separate department or rather compartment in the total 
domain of science. For the psychologist the question of 
boundaries is, therefore, essential; he must demarcate his 
area of Mind from other areas in the total world of know- 
ledge. He must at all costs vindicate the claims of psycho- 
logy as a separate science, distinct from the rest. And 
having with more or less success differentiated the scope of 
his science from those of other sciences, he then proceeds 
to explore the details of his science in the manner which 
is well known to us from the methods and procedure of the 
great masters of psychology. It is just here in the settle- 
ment of boundaries, in the demarcation of the domain of 
psychology from other domains in science, that the funda- 
mental difficulty for psychology arises. For Mind is much 
more elusive and penetrative than life and still more 


so than matter. Its " field " covers and penetrates the 
" fields " of matter and life in a way which makes the 
tracing of hard-and-fast boundaries very difficult, if not 
practically impossible. It seems to impinge in all directions 
on areas already apparently securely held by the other 
departments of natural and biological science; its claims 
are contested in many directions; and serious doubts arise 
in how far it really has a territory of its own distinct from 
other territories in science. The nature of Mind makes 
this difficulty inherent and irremediable, and psychology as 
a separate science will always have to remain content with 
an intensive cultivation of its central area only, and a 
sharing of the outer marches and outlying territories with 
the natural and biological sciences. To me it seems that 
such a condominium of the debatable area, however 
awkward for psychology, is by no means an unmixed evil 
for science in general, and that the intimate contact of the 
different view-points and methods of psychology and the 
other sciences over this area may prove fruitful and pro- 
ductive of great advances in future. This is, however, 
remarked by the way. My real point is the difference in the 
treatment of mind from the standpoints of psychology and of 
Holism respectively. For psychology Mind is a distinct 
phenomenon to be studied by itself. For the theory of 
Holism Mind is but a phase, though a culminating phase, of 
its universal process. The question of boundaries, so funda- 
mental for the psychologist, does not exist for us. From 
our point of view that is a mere parochial question ; for us 
Mind is not merely a phenomenon of human and animal 
psychology. We have to trace the connections of Mind 
with the earlier phases of matter and life; we have, so to 
say, to lay bare the foundations of Mind in the order of the 
universe. Mind as an expression of Holism, Mind as an 
organ of Holism : that is our problem. 

We have already seen that the atom and the cell were 
the two great departures in the upbuilding of the universe, 
the two great abiding peaks of achievement in the march 
of creative Holism, which have in turn become the basis 


and fundamental units of all existence. We now come to 
the third, which in the order of the universe is perhaps as 
great a departure, and from our human point of view even 
more significant than the other two. In Mind we reach 
the most significant factor in the universe, the supreme 
organ which controls all the other structures and mechan- 
isms. Mind is not yet the master, but it is the key in the 
hands of the master, Personality. It unlocks the door 
and releases the new-born spirit from the bonds and shackles 
and dungeons of natural necessity. It is the supreme 
system of control, and it holds the secret of freedom. 
Through the opened door, and the mists which still dim 
the eyes of the emergent spirit, it points to the great vistas 
of knowledge. Mind is the eye with which the universe 
beholds itself and knows itself divine. In Mind Nature at 
last emerges from the deep sleep of its far-off beginnings, 
becomes awake, aware and conscious, begins to know 
herself, and consciously, instead of blindly and unconsciously, 
to reach out towards freedom, towards welfare, and towards 
the goal of the ultimate Good. Mind is thus the organ of 
control, of knowledge and of values. No wonder that to 
the young Socrates it came as a great spiritual revelation 
when first he learned from Anaxagoras that not matter but 
mind was the ultimate principle of the universe. It is at 
any rate worthy to be set by the side of the atom 
and the cell as among the fundamental advances in creative 

It would be an interesting speculation at this stage to 
pause and ask, from our knowledge of the previous lines of 
advance in the atom and the cell, what the next step was 
to be, or rather in what direction it might be looked for. In 
what way precisely does Mind fit into the scheme of the 
earlier structures and mark another step forward in the great 
line of holistic advance? An answer to this larger, more 
speculative question may give us some general clue to the 
nature of Mind as the next great factor or phase in the 
evolution of the universe, and may form a fitting in- 
troduction to the narrower, more practical question of 


the functions and activities of Mind in the higher animals 
and man. 

Mind is an advance on what has gone before in two 
directions. And it is the peculiar interaction between the 
double lines of advance, the intersection of the two curves 
of advance, so to say, that produces the uniqueness of Mind 
as a natural phenomenon. In order to appreciate this we 
have to grasp the point which has been reached in the 
preceding sketch of the evolution of Holism. 

We have seen that both matter and life are structures, 
and that the advance of Evolution consists in the emergence 
of ever more complex and intensive structures, ever more 
complexly and highly organised wholes. In the structures 
of matter the number of co-operative elements are fewer 
and their interactions are simpler, so that it is still possible 
to some extent to trace elementary effects to their separate 
causes and sources in the structure itself. Structure is 
dominant and its functions are calculable as elements of 
structure. As, however, we proceed from physical to 
chemical structures the fusion and unification of elements 
and functions become more marked, and the structures 
become at the same time more complex. When we come 
to the structures of life we find not only the structural 
elements far more numerous and the structures far more 
complex, but also the organisation much more intensive 
and unified and the functions much more single and unified, 
individual and unanalysable. In a tree or an animal, for 
instance, we find an infinity of cells and cell-structures of 
all degrees of specialisation mutually adapted to and co- 
operating with each other for the maintenance of a single 
individual whole in a most wonderful way. We do not 
ascribe this co-operation and unity of action to some pre- 
siding intelligence in the tree or animal. In organism as 
such there is no psychic control ; and yet there is a control 
so simple, so automatic, so effective as to baffle our powers 
of understanding. The inner co-ordination and self-regula- 
tion in organisms which is the organic phase of Holism is 
indeed something marvellous, almost something miraculous. 


And in its way and on its own plane nothing more wonderful 
or perfect has been reached in the evolution of the universe. 
Conscious Mind with its uncertainties, its aberrations, its 
failures, seems a mere bungling experiment compared with 
this massive certainty and regularity. The irregularities and 
eccentricities of Mind in man compare very unfavourably 
with the unerring precision and regularity of organic activity 
and functioning in all highly developed plants and animals. 
Think of the well-ordered society which constitutes a big 
animal or tree ! Compare the love-making and union and 
reproduction in plants and organisms with the love-making 
and union of hearts of humans ! Compare the social organ- 
isation of insects with our social disorganisation and anarchy, 
our painful and uncertain social experiments and expedients 
even in the most highly developed human societies ! No, 
organism has nothing to learn from highly developed Mind 
in the way of regulation, co-ordination or inner control of 
structures and functions. The self-balance of processes 
and activities in organism surpasses anything our ingenuity 
can understand or encompass. It is by reflections such as 
these that the impression is borne in upon us that conscious 
Mind is no mere continuation and development of the organic 
process, but largely a fresh experiment in the universe, an 
experiment still in the making, and by no means in every 
respect a successful one. Mind, in fact, is a new structure 
still in process of making, and not a direct continuation or 
expansion of what has gone before. It is a superstructure 
on the basis of the pre-existing physical and physiological 
structures, and it carries on the task of Evolution on some- 
what new lines of its own, and initiated by itself. It has 
not appeared suddenly and from the blue at any particular 
point, though its advance may have partaken of the char- 
acter of a mutation, or a series of mutations. Its primordial 
roots probably lay in the beginnings of life itself, and in 
the favouring bosom of life its embryonic structure developed 
until in time it could appear as an independent factor, with 
a steadily growing power over life itself. But during all 
that immense formative period it was but a nursling of 


life and in no intelligible sense was it responsible for the 
delicate, complicated, internal self-ordering of the life- 
structures which must be attributed to another prior factor, 
or rather to a prior development of the same underlying 
holistic process of which Mind is a later development. 

Let me now turn to the consideration of the double lines 
of advance along which Mind emerges arid pushes forward 
in its evolution. In the discussion of cell-structures in 
Chapter IV we noted a double process in Holism, one of 
which is the regulative universalising process of structural 
order to which so much attention has been paid in this 
study, and the second of which I called individuation. 
Let me here say a few words about the latter aspect of 
the holistic advance, which remained of a somewhat sub- 
ordinate character and comparatively minor importance 
until the appearance of Mind. Holism, as its very idea 
implies, is a tendency towards unity, a blending and order- 
ing of multiple elements into new unities. From the more or 
less homogeneous to the heterogeneous ; from heterogeneous 
multiplicity again to greater, more advanced harmony, to 
a harmonious co-operative ordered structural unity ; such a 
formula may serve as a rough-and-ready description of the 
holistic process. Thus, for instance, in the process of 
Evolution we see the advance from material systems to 
individual organisms. One organism is not merely a dupli- 
cate of another, as one molecule of water is a duplicate of 
another. It is single and individual, with a character of 
its own. And the element of separate individuality increases 
as the differentiation and variation increase with the 
advance of Evolution. Such individual differences tend to 
increase, and at the same time their blending in the indi- 
vidual tends to become ever more unique. This tendency 
towards individuation is inherent in the holistic process 
and receives an immense impetus when the human level 
of development is reached. Here for the first time indi- 
viduality acquires its true and full meaning. Everyone 
knows what is meant by individuality as applied to humans. 
Not only are no two human beings alike; their separate 


characteristic individualities are what is most distinctive 
of them and what they are known by and what principally 
determines their relations in life. There is in each human 
being not only a peculiar blending of characters but also a 
sense of the uniqueness of this blending, a sense of separate 
and specific selfhood which constitutes his or her very 
essence. Humans are not mere units (as material bodies), 
they are also individuals; they are not merely individuals 
(like organisms), but also unique selves. Thus is the 
fundamental principle of individuation finally consummated 
in the human. The human being is a conscious self, and 
this selfhood becomes in turn the basis of his Personality, 
which is the supreme structure yet reached in Evolution 
and with which we shall deal in the next chapter. It is a 
striking fact that in the holistic advance as I have sketched 
it in previous chapters the dominant note and feature of 
progress is order, with an ever-increasing measure of regula- 
tion and co-ordination and control so as to make that order 
effective ; while the feature of individuation is comparatively 
insignificant. As old as structural order itself in the 
evolution of the universe, and an inseparable accompaniment 
of it at all stages, individuation as an evolutionary variation 
remains in the background, so to say, until the emergence 
of conscious Mind leads to a rapid and indeed phenomenal 
outgrowth of this hitherto minor feature. The appearance 
of Mind, therefore, especially at the human level where it 
is most marked, seems to constitute a break in the even 
and regular advance of Evolution, and to mark a new 
departure of a very far-reaching character. The fact is 
that in and with Mind a significant change takes place in 
the relative importance of the two fundamental aspects 
in Holism. While the aspect of order and regulation 
continues to develop and grow, the other aspect of indi- 
viduation pushes relatively much more to the front, and in 
the latest human phase of evolution not only assumes a 
dominant importance in itself, but also begins to exert a 
far-reaching influence on the other feature of order and 
regulation. That it will and indeed must have such an 


influence is at once intelligible from the fact that at bottom 
individuation and regulation are, as we have seen, dual 
aspects of the same inner process or activity, and any 
accentuation of the " individuation " factor must at once 
react on the other " regulation " factor. Thus it is that 
while in Nature order is of a mechanical character and in 
the world of life is of an automatic character, certain, regular 
and unfailing; in man, where the mental factor has come 
into its own, it is neither mechanical nor automatic, but of a 
new plastic variable type which we call conscious and volun- 
tary. In fact the whole system of regulation and control is 
fundamentally transformed ; new mental agencies seem to be 
at work and new categories of description and explanation 
become necessary. The appearance of conscious Mind has 
meant, not only an epoch-making development of the feature 
of individuality, but also and in consequence a new system 
of regulation and control, not so regular and automatic and 
effective as the older inorganic and organic systems, and 
still comparatively vacillating, irregular and uncertain in 
its action, but vastly more comprehensive and with a power 
which promises ultimately to give a complete command 
over the conditions of matter and life. There is a mastery 
in the new system of control such as was not dreamt of at 
earlier stages of Evolution. Organic regulation, however 
vast, elaborate and effective, has nothing of the sheer 
mastery and domination and free creative power which 
characterise the new control. Conscious planning on the 
mental level entirely revolutionises the situation and sub- 
stitutes freedom and action for the fixed automatic behaviour 
and routine of the biological order. 

These general remarks will serve to place Mind in the 
history of Evolution, and to show the nature of its relations 
to what has gone before and what is to follow. It marks 
a new departure not only in the feature of holistic regulation 
and control, to which so much attention has been paid in 
the foregoing chapters, but also and far more specially in 
the feature of individuation, which up to now has been of 
an insignificant character, but which from now on begins 


to assume a dominant position, and to give a new direction 
and character to the pre-existing system of organic regula- 
tion. Mind is not so much a direct continuation of the 
holistic advance on the previous lines of life as a fresh 
start, with a new factor pushed to the fore in the process, 
and a new orientation given to the whole movement. It 
marks the new stage of intensive individuation which 
becomes Personality; and at the same time it marks the 
new system of control which culminates in conscious rational 
Purpose as a function of Personality. Mind underlies and 
supports both these great closely related departures in the 
process of Evolution. Having thus indicated the general 
function and activity of Mind in the history of Evolution, 
let us now proceed to look more closely at its nature and 

Mind has its earliest beginnings in the inorganic structures 
of Nature already. Disturbance of the equilibrium of 
physical structures leads, as we have seen, to a state of 
tension, and a tendency to compensation; and one phase 
of this tension and compensating movement is seen in the 
selective action which matter already exercises, and which, 
as explained in Chapter VII, becomes far more accentuated 
in the subsequent structures of life. This tension with its 
selective compensation is without a doubt the original 
stimulus and source of Mind as well as of life, but the 
evolution of life proceeded far more rapidly and completely 
outstripped Mind in the race which followed. Mind as a 
matter of fact needed the support of life for its full fruition, 
and was therefore dependent on the prior development of 
life. In the course of the subsequent developments this 
tension underwent two radical changes which had far- 
reaching effects, as they led directly to the evolution of 
Mind. In the first place, the tension in the life-structures 
or living bodies developed (in some unknown manner) an 
additional intensity which took the entirely new form of 
a vague sense of irritation or discomfort which began 
to accompany it. In other words, the tension or strain 
in the living bodies led to the epoch-making development 


of this vague sense of uneasiness or discomfort, which 
had the effect of strongly reinforcing and stimulating 
the efforts made for the removal of the strain. The 
successful effort, again, was accompanied by a sense of 
ease or comfort which must have been a real helpful 
stimulus and have had considerable survival value for 
the organisms that developed it. We see thus that the 
tension or strain came to be accompanied by vague feelings 
which radically transformed it and gave a different meaning 
and value to it. The feeling became a potent force working 
behind and inside the organic system for the removal 
of the tension or strain. This feeling or sense of comfort 
or discomfort must originally have been of the vaguest 
possible character, but at any rate it was a beginning, 
and indeed a revolutionary beginning, and it performed a 
useful function in reinforcing the effort or rather tendency 
for the removal of the strain or uneasiness. It marked an 
enormous step in advance, and is probably still exemplified 
in the " tropisms " which characterise the movements of 
the most primitive animal organisms. 

In the second place, the tension became intensified in 
another direction. Instead of remaining merely a passive 
result of the state of disequilibrium, it became an active 
state or relation between the structure or body affected 
and the cause of the affection or discomfort. The passive 
tension became an active ad-tension or attention, and in 
this transformation we reach the most primitive, most 
characteristic function of Mind. The living organism no 
longer suffers passively, blindly and in darkness, so to speak. 
The worm turns upon the source of its torture. The 
organism begins to attend to the source of its discomfort; 
and this attention, at first vague and diffused, gradually 
develops, until it becomes an awareness or low form of 
awareness of its object, and consciousness in its most 
elementary form thus appears. In its most primitive 
form it showed itself at quite an early stage in animal 
development, probably not long after sensori-motor 
mechanisms had been evolved. 


These are the principal steps in the beginnings of Mind ; 
and whatever immemorial periods this evolution may have 
taken, and whatever other intermediate phases it may have 
passed through, in the result the basis of Mind was well 
and truly laid in the rise of the power of attention, accom- 
panied and stimulated by feelings of comfort or discomfort, 
and by a certain awareness or consciousness of the object 
to which attention was directed. As we saw in Chapter VI, 
it is one of the special effects of Holism to transform 
passivity into activity, and nowhere has that transforma- 
tion had a more far-reaching character than in regard to 
the origin of attention as an active response on the part 
of organism from the passive state of tension which had 
preceded it. In this transformation we see not only what 
is perhaps the origin of mental activity but also a new 
departure in the system of power, of freedom and of 
control over its surroundings with which Mind is specially 

The actual steps in the evolution of Mind, in so far as 
they can be traced from available evidence, need not be 
discussed here in detail. No doubt we have to start with 
sporadic and uncertain variations in mere organic structural 
functioning ; as these become regular and stereotyped they 
assume the form, first of tropisms in plants and animals, 
and then of reflexes in the activity of special organs or cells. 
Then in the case of animals trains of reflexes are gradually 
co-ordinated into regular modes of activity of the organism 
as a whole, as instincts. Sensori-motor co-ordinations 
are effected, by which the passive influences and effects 
coming from the outside world are transformed into definite 
modes of active response by the organism. This active 
power of response enables the organism to strive more 
effectively for the satisfaction of its needs, endows it with 
a definite conative power, so to say. It begins to strive, 
to seek, to experiment and explore. The original reaction 
of inorganic, and then of organic, selectiveness has become 
a real function and capacity of conation. The originally 
vague and diffused feeling increases in volume and intensity 


and propels this striving or conation all the more effectively. 
The awareness or consciousness of objects becomes clearer ; 
consciousness becomes a real illumination of outside objects 
which before were dark and unknown. It becomes the 
torch with which the organism explores its way in a dark 
and somewhat alien world. Consciousness thus increases 
the influence of the environment on the organism ; and its 
correlative attention pari passu increases the power of 
response and the return influence which the organism can 
exercise over the environment. This mental activity con- 
tinues to grow in its double inner and outer aspects, its 
inner capacity of attention and active reaction, and its 
outward-facing capacity of assimilating external materials 
in the form of awareness or consciousness of objects. A 
metabolism of a higher order than that seen on the biological 
plane sets in; a new psychological structure has been 
evolved ; and Mind starts on its active and creative career. 
No elaboration of the steps sketched here can be attempted, 
and the details must be studied in works dealing with 
Biology and with animal and human Psychology. We are 
concerned with the underlying processes and the general 
character of their results. Details must be left to the 
special sciences. 

I have traced Mind to its dual source, and wish now to 
draw attention to the consequent duality of Mind itself. 
Holism on the advanced psychic plane discloses two distinct 
though interdependent tendencies the one individual, the 
other universal and Mind shows both these contrasted 
characters, and faces in both apparently opposed directions. 
Psychologically the duality of Mind is best expressed in the 
Subject-Object relation which is fundamental for Mind. 
Consciousness as it develops splits up the indefinite mass of 
experience into two definite aspects : the self or Subject, 
which is conscious or attending, the Object, which it attends 
to or fe conscious of. " The Subject conscious of an 
Object " is thus a general formula for all experience of a 
mental character. The Subject is not before the Object, 
nor the Object before the Subject, but both arise 


simultaneously and pari passu in the mental activity which 
we call consciousness. The world is not the creature and 
result of the Mind, as idealists would have it; nor is the 
Mind the resultant of external stimuli on the brain, as the 
materialists would have it. Experience is one ; and experi- 
ence as it becomes conscious differentiates or unfolds itself 
into the Subject-Object relation. They are the double 
aspects of experience at its conscious level, and reflect but 
the duality of the source of Mind itself. The inmost nature 
and essence of Mind is this activity which appears as conscious- 
ness and the Subject and Object aspects which crystallise 
out of it in experience. They are at bottom and in real 
truth not independents, but dependent correlates in the 
psychic medium called consciousness. A clear and firm 
realisation of this fundamental fact is basic for all true 
science and philosophy alike. We saw in Chapter VII 
what insoluble problems arise both for science and thought 
from hypostatising Mind and Body as independent reals or 
substances. Here we are at the tap-root of this source of 
error. Mind-and-Body is but a particular form of the 
general Subject-Object situation. They are not inde- 
pendents, they are interdependents ; they are poles in the 
field of Mind; they are elements or rather aspects of the 
same reality given in solution in experience and precipitated 
from it by consciousness. Out of this fundamental unity 
Mind in the larger sense has elaborated our experience of both 
the inner and outer worlds, of the self and the external uni- 
verse. It is the business of psychology to show how this has 
been done, and to trace the progressive stages in this con- 
structive process. For me it is only necessary here to 
emphasise that no correct interpretation of experience is 
possible unless we bear in mind that both the Subject and 
Object aspects are absolutely essential to it. Subject and 
Object are held together in experience as necessary elements 
in the unity of Holism from which both are differentiated. 
Neither element can be ignored in our reading and explora- 
tion of experience. The Einstein standpoint of Relativity 
is not only the soundest science, it is fundamental to 


psychology. The world in experience is at bottom my 
reading of the world in which / am the centre of refer- 
ence, where the system of co-ordinates of measurement 
is my private system ; and the space, time and experience 
which go to the making of it are my space, time and 
experience. Objectivity and universality are indeed 
attainable, but only from a subjective and individual 
starting-point and centre of reference. Individuation is 
bound up with reality on the psychic plane. What has 
been looked upon as a reproach to psychology, namely, the 
essentially subjective standpoint which rules it, the self 
which it discloses as central to all our experience of 
reality, now appears to be equally necessary for all the 
other sciences as well. Natural Science, which has always 
prided itself on its objectivity and freedom from all sub- 
jective considerations, now finds that after all psychology 
has been right; that the despised subject or Self of 
psychology is not only a real factor in the universe, but 
is central to all true knowledge of it. Here at last natural 
science and psychology can clasp hands and together in true 
partnership go forward on the great adventure of knowledge 
which is their common task. Their separation has been a 
calamity to both ; their reunion will prove fruitful beyond 
our fondest dreams. Einstein's great achievement is but 
the first-fruits of that reunion. 

Let us for a moment look a little more closely at this 
individualistic aspect of Holism in its higher developments. 
We have seen how it begins as physical and chemical affinities 
and selectivities ; later on in the region of life we saw it 
appearing as organic selection and appetitiveness. On the 
mental level again it emerges as a certain striving, a seeking, 
a conativeness, which, when attention has risen to the 
level of consciousness, becomes purposive. Thereafter the 
individual no longer floats forward on inorganic or organic 
drifts, tendencies and appetites, but begins to direct his 
course according to conscious voluntary purposes. The 
individual makes his own plans and no longer automatically 
follows Nature's plan. Conscious ends emerge; things the 


individual strives after as desirable and good attract him 
more than the unconscious organic urge behind, the vis a 
tergo, propels him; the pulls in front begin to dominate 
the pushes behind. The desired things become the 
Values, which intelligence illuminates and magnifies and 
emotions suffuse and intensify until they become the 
dominant Ideals of action. We see the rise not only of new 
mental activities but of new categories such as Purpose and 
Value, which were not possible or necessary on the organic 
level. It is evident that these new activities, such as 
attention, consciousness, intelligence, emotion and will, as 
well as the new categories which accompany them, are all 
in line with the individuational development of Holism, and 
mark so to say a deviation from the direct line of organic 
regulation and systematic co-ordination which characterised 
Holism in its earlier organic development. They make 
directly for the development of the individual, of the self, 
of the Personality. Holism seems for the moment to depart 
from its vast plan of extensive co-ordination and harmonisa- 
tion in order to foster little centres of intensive Wholeness 
in individuals, to place the little wholes before the great 
Whole, and to abandon universality for individuality. In 
fact the largely individualistic nature of Mind makes it 
apparently a deviation from the universal order. Mind 
appears as a rebel in the universe, whose self-centredness 
and purposeful striving might and largely does make for 
disharmony and disorder rather than for peace, order and 
harmony. Thus the great Ethical problem arises ; thus the 
conflict between individual ends and purposes on the one 
hand and universal claims and rights on the other comes to 
the surface on the psychic plane of Evolution. Mind the 
rebel has appeared, Self the anarchist has emerged, and the 
ancient order of the universe is profoundly disturbed. The 
new psychic individualistic situation applies a most searching 
test to the foundations of the holistic universe. The war in 
heaven has broken out, the archangels have revolted. Who 
will win, and what is the character of the new peace going to 
be ? Such is the question which we now proceed to consider. 


The first and most important point to make is that we 
should not be misled by our own metaphors. Individuation 
is but an aspect and no more, is but one aspect of the holistic 
advance. The other, universal, aspect remains of funda- 
mental importance throughout, although for the moment it 
may be and probably is pushed somewhat into the back- 
ground. The two aspects are complementary and inter- 
dependent, and each has a vital grip on the other. The 
individual is going to be universalised, the universal is 
going to be individualised, and thus from both directions the 
whole is going to be enriched. The individual development 
is necessary for the advance. Organic regulation, however 
great an advance on inorganic structural order, is not enough. 
It is still too mechanical and rigid ; it is still too external in 
character. It must acquire new characters of internality; 
there must be more self-regulation and less external regula- 
tion. There must be more inner intensive mobility, more 
plasticity and less rigid regulation. Plasticity, freedom, 
creativeness are necessary for the new groupings and 
structures which are to arise on the psychic level. The 
higher metabolism of mind demands more freedom from the 
routine of organic regulation. The area and degrees of 
freedom must be indefinitely enlarged, and in the Self a new 
organiser of victory must be constituted. That is the one 
side of the dual advance ; but the other is there all the time 
and in the end just as important. Thus there must also be 
a higher order, a more developed and enriched universality, 
a more coherent objectivity. More wholeness not only 
means a deeper, more intensive individuality in the Self, 
but also a more perfect order in the structure of Reality. 
And the two must interpenetrate each other and mutually 
transform each other in that unity which is the whole. And 
that is exactly what happens in the evolution of mind in 
man and animals, and in the development of mind in the 
human individual. The selfish appetite is gradually curbed 
and subdued and co-ordinated with other motives; the 
conative activity is not merely self -regarding but gradually 
becomes linked with the interests of others, and finally 


becomes an impersonal endeavour towards the Good. A 
new era of adjustments and co-ordinations sets in, and the 
individual on the psychic plane pursues the double task of 
self-perfection and perfection of the All. And the two 
mutually and reciprocally influence and modify each other 
and shape an ideal of Good which incorporates elements 
from both. Holism has narrowed itself into the individual 
only thereby to advance to a more perfect all-embracing 
order. The apparent retreat to the individual level is 
merely for the purpose of a greater advance towards whole- 
ness. The newer, deeper Self becomes the centre for a 
fresh ordering and harmony of the universal. 

The possibility for this great transformation is given in 
the very nature of Mind ; for Mind is not merely conative 
and purposive. It is also rational, it is the basis of the 
Reason. And Reason becomes the basis of the new order 
in the universe. It is not only the principle of order in the 
Self, but also the link which binds the Self and the Not-self 
into a whole. Reason is the organ of universality, of the 
deeper, more intensive universality of the spirit. Reason 
is largely creative of the new structures of Reality and 
Truth. In the Reason, Mind, instead of pursuing its 
individualistic, purposive activity, resumes the primeval 
march of Holism towards more regulation, a higher co- 
ordination and a greater order. Our will is the urge towards 
self-expression, and is therefore the organ of individuality. 
" Our wills are ours to make them Thine." In other words, 
our will is individualistic and has to be harmonised and 
through effort and struggle to be adjusted to higher ethical 
and spiritual ends and ideals. But our Reason is in its very 
essence more than individual; it is expressive of univer- 
sality ; it is a part of that Order which regulates the universe, 
and in a deep sense it is a creative factor or co-creator of 
that Order. Through our Reason we partake of universality 
and are members of the everlasting Order of the universal. 

Mind in its rational as distinguished from its purely 
conative activity is in the direct line of Evolution from 
organic regulation : psychic reason is the direct descendant 


of organic regulation. This would appear from the simple 
fact that the central nervous system is the physiological 
organ of regulation and co-ordination in the living body ; 
and the brain, which is nothing but the crowning develop- 
ment of the nervous system, is again the organ and physio- 
logical correlate of Mind. In other words, as the brain is 
merely a development of the nervous system, so the Mind is 
nothing but a development of prior organic regulation. 
Mind qua Reason is thus the organising principle, the 
principle of central control and co-ordination, and carries on 
the tradition and evolution of Holism in the direct line, so 
to say. 

And in the entire range of its rational activity Mind shows 
the same synthetic co-ordinating character. This could 
easily be proved by running through the psychological 
functions, ranging from their beginnings in attention and 
passing through sensation, perception, imagination, con- 
ception, and on to judgment or reasoning. In every case 
an ordering synthetic activity is at work producing structural 
masses of experience arranged on definite ascertainable 
principles of selection and grouping. These products of the 
rational activity of Mind are not mere artificial aggregates, 
mere assemblages of psychological items arranged according 
to mechanical principles or so-called laws of association or 
rules of logic. On the contrary, they are synthetic unities 
of an advanced holistic character. A percept or an image 
or a concept is a holistic unity, built up out of a mass of 
materials, on definite principles of cohesion and co-ordination. 
So too is a judgment. It is the business of psychology to 
study these syntheses and their structures, and the principles 
according to which they are formed and connected with each 
other. Mind in its rational activity is thus synthetic and 
co-ordinative through and through, and its products are 
synthetic, organic and holistic in a marked degree. 

Mind the organiser transforms, reorganises and reconsti- 
tutes even the individualist Self. The rebel in the end has 
to submit and swear fealty to the controlling power. Indeed 
the purely individualist Self or mere individual is a figment 


of abstraction. For the Self only comes to realisation and 
consciousness of itself, not alone and in individual isolation 
and separateness, but in society, among other selves with 
whom it interacts in social intercourse. I would never 
come to know myself and be conscious of my separate 
individual identity were it not that I become aware of others 
like me : consciousness of other selves is necessary for 
consciousness of self or self-consciousness. The individual 
has therefore a social origin in experience. Nay, more, it 
is through the use of the purely social instrument of language 
that I rise above the mere immediacy of experience and 
immersion in the current of my experience. Language 
gives names to the items of my experience, and thus through 
language they are first isolated and abstracted from the 
continuous body of my experience. Through the naming 
power of language, again, several items of experience can be 
grouped together under one name, which becomes distinctive 
of their general resemblances, in disregard of their minor 
differences. In other words, the power of forming general 
concepts becomes possible only tlnxnigh the social instrument 
of language. Thus the entire developed apparatus of thought 
with which I measure the universe and garner an untold 
wealth of personal experience is not my individual equipment 
and possession, but a socially developed instrument which I 
share with the rest of my fellows. Nay, my very self, so 
uniquely individual in appearance, is, as I have said, largely 
a social construction, and rounded out of the social inter- 
course and psychical interaction with my fellows. The 
individual Self or Personality rests not on its individual 
foundations but on the whole universe. Psychology con- 
clusively proves that, and Holism but accentuates it by 
tracing the individual to his sources in the whole. The 
individual Self is not singular, springing from one root, so 
to say. It combines an infinity of elements growing out 
of the individual endowment and experience on the one hand 
and the social tradition and experience on the other. All 
these elements are fused and metabolised into a holistic 
unity which becomes a unique centre in the universe and, 


in a real sense, of the universe. Nowhere in the world do 
we find a greater intensity of the holistic effect produced 
than in the individual Self or Personality. And yet even 
there it is by no means complete, for the individual Per- 
sonality, as we shall see, still shows a discordance of elements 
which leads to most of the great problems of thought and 
conduct. The point I am trying to make, however, is that 
the apparently individualist Mind is in reality deeply and 
vitally influenced by the universal Mind; and that the 
individual self only comes to its own through the rational 
and social self which relates it organically to the rest of the 
universe. It is rooted in and dependent on the greater whole, 
and only to a minor extent a rebel against its controlling 
influence. The immense power of Mind is shown in the way 
in which, out of the simple data of the rudimentary Self and 
its experiences, it has raised the noble superstructure of 
the human Personality. Mind here appears as the great 
creative artist. But it is more than that; for its work is 
no mere picture of reality, but is reality itself. It is the 
great archetype of the artist, and it has this pure creative 
power because it is but a form, a phase of the supreme 
creative activity in the universe. 

When Mind comes to apply its conceptual system to its 
experience of the world, we see the same synthetic holistic 
activity at work. At first crude, naive experience is simply 
taken at its face value, and from it a rough empirical order 
is constructed which is sufficiently correct for all ordinary 
purposes, and may fairly be called the world of common 
sense. Of course even this common-sense empirical order 
will vary widely at different levels of culture. But in every 
case it is a first rough approximation and a grouping, order- 
ing and arranging of experience according to the standards 
and the needs of the common man at that level of mental 
culture. It is a more or less faithful reading of ordinary 
experience, and although it contains many discrepancies and 
contradictions, it is on the whole a more or less connected, 
coherent Weltanschauung with a fair correspondence to the 
facts of direct observation. 


From this common-sense world of experience is gradually 
evolved a more correct and refined system of experience. 
Anomalies are gradually eliminated and the logical rational 
character of the system increases. And this refinement 
continues until in the scientific conceptual system the 
empirical common-sense order is completely overhauled 
and reconstructed. In this system scientific concepts and 
entities corresponding to nothing in empirical experience 
become of fundamental importance, because without them 
not only empirical experience but also the more refined 
observations of Science become utterly unintelligible. The 
matters dealt with in most of the preceding chapters belong 
to the scientific conceptual system, as they base the world of 
experience on real or hypothetical entities and factors 
which, although they lie beyond the world of direct experi- 
ence, are yet necessary for the rational order and coherence 
and comprehension of the facts which do fall within the range 
of ordinary and refined scientific experience. In this system 
not only is the seen order made to depend on an unseen order 
of ideas of extraordinary refinement, but the immense 
movements and changes of the universe are referred to a very 
small number of fundamental principles which appear to 
govern all happening in the universe. From this esoteric 
system to which Science is more and more tending have been 
removed most of the anomalies, incoherences and discrep- 
ancies of the empirical order. Many final difficulties still 
remain, some of which may perhaps never be eliminated. 
But on the whole the system of Science is rapidly becoming 
a great rational body of experience and thought, closely 
articulated in all its details, and held together by simple 
principles of the widest sweep. The system as a whole 
represents the proudest achievement of the Mind in its 
rational activity as the regulative co-ordinating principle 
in the universe. Mind as the principle of the rational 
construction of the universe here reaches its highest 
expression. Professor L. T. Hobhouse in his great work 
on Development and Purpose has with a master's hand 
traced the development and interpretation of experience 


from its humble na'ive beginnings to its culmination in 
the vast conceptual system of Science. I must here rest 
content with the preceding summary statement. What 
I have said will, however, I hope, suffice to show that 
Mind the Rebel is only one aspect of holistic activity ; and 
that Mind the Organiser, Mind the Central Control in our 
experience of the world is the other equally true com- 
plementary aspect. Behind both aspects is that inner 
creative Holism which has flowered into the human Mind 
and Personality on the one hand and into the grandeur of 
form and content of the infinite universe on the other. 
The theory of Holism thus carries the scientific system 
of experience another step further, and tries to read in the 
riddles of Science still deeper and more ultimate concepts 
of reality. 

Mind has been here described as a new variation or muta- 
tion or series of mutations in holistic Evolution, in some 
respects antithetic to and at variance with its main trend. 
But its final result is immensely to enrich the main process. 
Mind has made all the difference to the later and latest 
stages of Evolution. Without Mind the organic and regu- 
lative process of the universe, vast and magnificent in any 
case, would have been at best but a tame affair. The 
universe would have moved forward, as it were in a dream, 
with an unearthly regularity and majesty of movement. 
Its process would have become ever more complicated and 
ever more frictionless, as of some sublime animated machine, 
great beyond all power of conception. All elements of 
discord and disharmony would have passed away from its 
vast cosmic routine. But it would have gone on sublimely 
unconscious of itself. It would have had no soul or souls ; it 
would have harboured no passionate exaltations ; no poignant 
regrets or bitter sorrows would have disturbed its profound 
peace. For it neither the great lights nor the deep shadows. 
Truth, Beauty and Goodness would have been there, but 
unknown, unseen, unloved. They would have been cold and 
passionless like the distant stars, and would never have 
become the great ideals thrilling and inspiring men and 


women to deathless action. Love would have been there, 
but not the immortal emotion which mortals call by that 
name. Into that great dream-garden of Eden, Mind the 
disturber has entered, and with Mind sin and sorrow, faith 
and love, the great vision of knowledge, and the conscious 
effort to master all hampering conditions and to work out 
the great redemption. To the music of the universe there 
has thus been added a new note, as of laughter and tears, 
a new undertone of the human, which transforms and 
enriches all the rest. It is no longer a song of the Golden 
Reign of the Elder Gods, but of the intertwining of the 
Cosmos with human Destiny, of the suffering which has 
become consecrated and illuminated by the great visions, of 
the magic power of knowledge to work out new enchantments, 
to break the dumb routine, to set the captive spirit free, and 
to blaze new paths to the immortal Goal. Mind has thus 
added an infinity of light and shade and colour, of inward 
character and conscious content to the great process in and 
from which it has emerged. Without Mind the universe 
would have been an altogether dull affair, however unimagin- 
ably grand in other respects. Even its aberrations have 
been woven into the new harmonies ; its eye has beheld the 
greater lights, and knowledge has given it the key of power 
and mastery over the conditions which previously towered 
like an unscalable mountain escarpment athwart its path 
of progress. 

Let us dwell for a moment on this new power and mastery 
which Mind has brought on the scene. Knowledge is power, 
and it is unnecessary for us here to trace in detail the steps 
by which the present power and mastery of Science over 
material conditions have been acquired. Life below the 
mental level strengthens the innate capacity to react to 
external influences of a harmful or beneficial nature by 
various movements which lead successively to the tropisms, 
reflexes and automatisms of the lower organisms. When 
Mind appears as an active factor, this power of regulating 
movements is greatly enlarged and intensified, until we see the 
sureness and delicacy of the instinctive reactions which 


characterise all Mind in its subconscious levels. It is, how- 
ever, when consciousness appears that an immense accession 
to this power of control is brought about. Consciousness, as 
we have seen, is a power of illuminating objects in the field of 
experience. The organism through this power of illumina- 
tion can gradually arrive at a fair knowledge of its sur- 
roundings in so far as they are harmful or beneficial to it. 
Its power of selection is thus more surely guided, and it 
learns to know accurately and easily what to avoid and what 
to welcome. When the human level is reached a revolution 
in the conditions of knowledge is effected. The human 
mind can make its own combinations and correlations from 
the materials with which it finds itself surrounded. It 
can, therefore, in a large sense make or mould its own 
environmental conditions, and thus eliminate or neutralise 
hostile influences and reinforce favourable conditions. This 
is already the case on the empirical level of knowledge ; it 
is far more the case where the empirical stage has been passed 
and the developed scientific stage has been reached. Here 
the mind does not wait on events, but moulds and creates 
events through its control of the appropriate conditions. In 
this way the development of the several sciences has meant 
continuous increase, not only of knowledge, but of real power 
over the material and other conditions of life. Here again 
Mind the Organiser or Correlator has shown its creative 
power in shaping the conditions which surround its activity. 
Instead of being the slave of these conditions it gains a more 
or less complete mastery over them. It can at will bring 
about those combinations and selections which will assist 
or further its purposes, and it can, through selective manipula- 
tion of the surrounding conditions, neutralise or cancel out 
any which are unfavourable to the execution of its aims. 
Knowledge thus becomes an efficient instrument of the 
will; and where the will itself is nobly trained, guided 
and controlled, the individual acquires and wields an 
almost unlimited power for Good. Thus is freedom at last 
achieved over the dominance of the conditions of life, 
and Mind assumes the sovereignty to which it had been 


destined from the beginning as the successor to Life and 

In the exercise of its free and unhampered right of self- 
determination, Mind on the human level proceeds to create 
to a large extent the appropriate conditions for its own 
development. Instead of remaining dependent on the 
natural environment, Mind builds up a vast social environ- 
ment for itself. It builds up a far-reaching social structure 
with institutions of all sorts which are intended to develop 
and educate the human groups and individuals, intellectually 
and morally, to facilitate intercourse and co-operation among 
them, to declare and safeguard their rights, and to protect 
them against the hostile influences of the animate or inani- 
mate environment and of other groups of humans. Thus 
language arises as well as the institutions of marriage and 
the family, of religion, law and government, and all the other 
numerous forms into which social beliefs and practices are 
embodied. The very laws of organic Evolution seem to be 
modified by this great transformation. In the organic 
sphere we saw the individual adapting itself or being adapted 
to the environment as the imperative condition of its survival. 
Here we see the environment being more and more adapted 
to the individual. The individual appears as the creator, 
the environment as the creature, the house it makes for its 
habitation, so to speak. In the organic sphere we saw the 
individual inheritance and variations incorporated into the 
individual organic structure and thus preserved for the future. 
Here we see social traditions take the place of this individual 
structural heredity. The human individual does not find 
himself over-burdened with an impossible structure, with a 
load of inheritance which would be more than he could bear. 
The load is mainly shifted on to the ampler shoulders of the 
social tradition. The human individual has the good luck 
to find himself born into an environment which largely per- 
forms the hereditary function, and all that he is called upon 
to do is to assimilate this environment, and so to obtain com- 
mand of its gathered resources. Language, customs, writing, 
literature, history, knowledge and empirical practice are all 


storehouses of traditional information at the disposal of the 
human individual who learns their use. Heredity with the 
human individual comes more and more to mean, not (as 
in the case of animals) the predisposition or capacity to act 
or react in certain definite ways, but the general capacity of 
experience, the capacity to learn or acquire in the individual 
life the power to act in an indefinite number of ways. In the 
human inheritance general educability takes the place of 
definite specific hereditary functions. Whereas an animal 
is born with the ability to perform a certain limited number 
of functions, the human individual is born with the general 
capacity of educability or being educated to learn an indefinite 
number of functions in his lifetime. The animal is still 
under the domination of his physical structure, and in his 
action is limited to the functions inherited with this struc- 
ture, with a very limited range of learning new actions. The 
human individual, on the contrary, finds himself but little 
restricted in his development by his hereditary structure, and 
finds himself blest with an almost unlimited adaptability and 
capacity for experience and knowledge. In other words, 
the inheritance of Mind supersedes the organic inheritance 
more and more. With an animal definite modes of function- 
ing are inherited ; with the human individual general mental 
plasticity is chiefly inherited. And the definite specific modes 
of functioning which an animal inherits with his physiologi- 
cal structure, the human individual learns and acquires from 
the social tradition into which he is born. Nothing shows 
more clearly the revolution which the appearance of Mind 
has wrought than this far-reaching transformation which it 
has effected in the methods and procedure of organic Evo- 
lution. On the animal plane structure still largely deter- 
mines function, but on the human plane mental plasticity so 
dominates everything else in the inheritance that the impor- 
tance of structure is completely dwarfed, and it appears as 
a subordinate factor in the total human situation. Even 
so, however, it retains a great importance which often 
comes out in dark and unexpected ways in the individual 


The advent of Mind has undoubtedly meant a large cor- 
related development of structure, especially in the human 
nervous system and brain, which is, of course, far larger 
and more complex than that of even the highest anthropoid. 
But even so the role of structure is comparatively less 
prominent in man than it is at earlier phases of organic Evolu- 
tion, and its functions have not only been fundamentally 
transformed, as we have just seen, but have also relatively 
vastly increased in significance. So much so indeed that 
structure in man becomes of merely secondary importance, 
while its mental functions become all-important. The super- 
structure of Mind is immeasurably greater than the brain or 
neural structure on which it rests, and is something of a quite 
different order, which marks a revolutionary departure from 
the organic order whence it originated. Under these circum- 
stances the question of primacy as between the Mind and the 
brain is deprived of all real importance. It is not a question 
of origins but of values, to which there can be but one answer. 
By whatever standard of value it is measured, Mind has 
risen above its physiological source as high as, or even higher 
than, life has risen above its inorganic beginnings. 

From the question of structure we pass naturally on to 
consider the " field " of Mind. The field of Mind differs in 
character from the field of matter or of organism. It is 
neither physical nor physiological, no more than Mind itself 
is. Mind is a new type of structure of the immaterial or 
spiritual kind, and so also is its field. In Mind there is a 
central illuminated area, the area of full consciousness, which 
is directly open to inspection and observation. Taking this 
area as the central structure of Mind, the " field " of Mind 
then comes to mean that area of its functions and activities 
which falls below the " threshold " of consciousness, which 
remains unilluminated and dark, which cannot, therefore, be 
known by direct inspection and which, as in the cases of the 
other fields, can only be ascertained by its indirect effects. 
The field of Mind in this sense has been the subject of much 
psychological speculation and discussion, and we may there- 
fore here rest content with a very summary statement, which 


will as far as possible be confined to the holistic aspects of 
subconscious mental activity. 

The activities of Mind below the level of consciousness are 
most important for Mind as a whole. It is in this subcon- 
scious area or field of its activities that Mind especially 
feels the pressure of the past and to some extent the 
pull of the future. The time factor is even more im- 
portant for the field of Mind than it is for the other 
fields previously considered. The central structure of 
Mind functions in the full blaze of consciousness in the 
present ; but it is surrounded by a field of the greatest 
importance where the past and the future respectively hold 
sway. Mind, therefore, integrates the past and the future 
with the present; mental activity is a synthesis which 
unifies all its time in the present moment of functioning. 
And it is thus enabled to act with far more holistic effect 
than either matter or life is able to do. Let us consider for 
a moment the influence which the past and the future 
exercise on the present in mental activity. 

The contribution of the past is twofold. In the first place 
there is the experience of the past in the individual life which 
has fallen into the background of the Mind and is no longer 
directly remembered. Yet this experience, as is well known, 
has a most powerful influence on the conscious present of the 
experiencing subject. Even the unremembered past experi- 
ence is not dead, but alive and active below the level of con- 
sciousness. In the debating chamber of the present it may 
not speak, but it votes, and its silent vote is often decisive. 
Mind does not work in water-tight compartments, its past 
experience is integral with its present action. Its procedure 
is entirely massive, integral, holistic. Memory, the great 
basic bond of individuality, binding together and fusing all 
the past phases and experience of the individual with the 
present into one unique whole which is himself, operates 
below as well as above the level of consciousness ; essen- 
tially it forgets nothing and leaves behind nothing of the 
past. Remembered or unremembered, the past exerts its 
full force on the present experience. 


The second contribution of the past comes from farther 
back. It is the contribution of the hereditary structure as 
modified by ancestral experience, which lies behind all 
individual experience. And in many ways its contribution is 
even more significant than that of past individual experience. 
It gives us our fundamental bias, our points of view, our 
temperament, our instinctive reactions and our particular 
individual ways of looking at persons and things. There is 
in each human individual a distinctive basis of Personality 
composed of these elements which cannot be traced to indivi- 
dual experience and which is given by his hereditary struc- 
ture and ancestral past. In many ways it is the most 
important part of our personal make-up. It is not conscious 
or critical or rational in its activity, but it constitutes the 
permanent background of the Mind and the Personality 
behind all individual experience and development. Experi- 
ence, reasoning, criticism usually make no impression on it. 
I like or dislike somebody instinctively and at first sight, 
and nothing thereafter alters my attitude to him. There is 
nothing analytical about it, and its action is purely massive. 
Generally the result of this massive hereditary memory could 
be best described as a " feel " or sensing, an intuitive reading 
or subconscious judgment of a person or thing or situation, 
which cannot be further analysed to any good purpose. 
Great wisdom and judgment no less than prejudices and 
passions usually have their source in that distant past and 
rest on no analysable evidence in the individual experience. 
It will thus be seen that this contribution of the hereditary 
past is also decidedly of a holistic character. The import- 
ance given to it by the recent development of Psycho- 
analysis need only be mentioned here. 

What has been said so far will be generally admitted. 
To me, however, there is something even more decidedly 
holistic in the hereditary factor. To me the ordinary senses 
do not exhaust the possibilities of sensuous intuition in the 
human mind. These senses have been differentiated and 
evolved out of a common pool ; but the pool has not in con- 
sequence dried up and ceased to be the ultimate sensuous 


source of Holism in the human Mind. Is it a far-fetched 
idea to assume that behind the special senses and their 
evolution, and pari passu with their evolution, the mother 
sense from which they were evolved has also silently con- 
tinued to grow and evolve as the binding, uniting, cementing 
element among the deliverances of the special senses ? There 
is a subtle, profound, synthetic activity at work among our 
sensations and intuitions which cannot be ascribed to the 
ordinary conscious activities of the Mind. All the wholes 
we see in life as persons or things are composed of contribu- 
tions from all or most of the special senses, so utterly fused 
with each other that disentanglement becomes practically 
impossible. And these uniquely unitary wholes exist for us 
from the early beginnings of sensation and perception. So, 
for instance, the unique whole of the mother is present to 
the young baby from the early weeks of its life. Is there 
not some subtle fusing, unifying sense at work pari passu 
with the several differentiated senses ? Is there not a sixth 
sense, the sensus communis from which the others have been 
derived without exhausting it, and whose development 
has kept pace with their development ? Such a sense would 
not be particularly noticed, as its activity would be masked 
by that of the other senses and is ordinarily and as a matter 
of course apt to be ascribed to and apportioned among 
the other senses. But the coherence of the deliverances of 
the several senses and their fusion into unitary wholes 
cannot be ascribed to some assumed attraction for each other 
on their part ! It is the Mind which fuses and unites them ; 
and if it is the mind, it must be a sensuous element or factor 
in the mind over and above these specialised senses. To 
me it seems a simple and plausible idea that there is in the 
mind more power of sensation and intuition of the synthetic 
type than is to be found in or between the special senses. 
Otherwise I find the unities underlying both the subject and 
objects of experience inexplicable. I am not sure that 
our massive sense of reality, of the reality of the external 
world, for instance, is not to be traced in a large measure to 
the influence of this deeper sense behind the other senses. 


Psychologists believe in a general sensibility which shows 
itself not only in the vague internal organic sensations, but 
also in the other diffused states of our bodies resulting 
from light or warmth or other physical conditions. They 
have, however, as far as I am aware, not given sufficient 
attention to the subject, which seems to me of great 
importance in the synthetic make-up of Mind. 

The obscure subject of Telepathy seems to me to fall 
within the " field " of Mind, and possibly to involve a form 
of sensuous intuition which cannot be attributed to any of 
the special senses. It is possible that the form of sense 
which becomes active in Telepathy is closer to thought 
than the ordinary senses, that it lies between thought 
and these senses, and that its subtle activity reveals 
the thought where these senses cannot do so. In short, 
it may be in the nature of what has been called an 
" intellectual intuition." Just as all sensation involves 
thought, so all thought involves obscure diffused sensation. 
And it is possible that in this area of obscure sensation 
at the bottom or on the fringe of thought the ex- 
planation of telepathic sensation may lie. And subjects 
who have this form of sensitiveness may sense the thought 
itself or other conscious experience of other individuals 
without communication in the ordinary ways of the senses. 
This sensitiveness may be a form of the above-mentioned 
universal sensus communis, the nature and functions of 
which are of great importance for the mind as a whole 
and are well worth exploring by psychology. Here I can 
only mention the matter in passing. 

So much for the contribution of the past to the present 
conscious activity of Mind. It will be noticed that it is of a 
highly synthetic or holistic character and that, whether it 
operates as subconscious sensation or subconscious judg- 
ment, it supplies much of the cement which Mind requires 
for its constructions and syntheses on the conscious level. 

The most significant element, however, in the " field " 
of Mind concerns the future, and makes the future an 
operative factor in the present mental activity. Mind does 
this through purpose; purpose is the function of Mind by 


which it contemplates some future desired end and makes the 
idea of this end exert its full force in the present. Thus I 
form a purpose to go on a hunting expedition for my next 
holiday, and this purpose forms a complex synthesis and 
sets going a whole series of plans and actions all intended 
to give effect to the purpose. Thus in purpose the future 
as an object in my mind becomes operative in the present 
and sets going and controls a long train of acts leading up 
to the execution of the purpose. The conscious purpose, 
the end as deliberately envisaged and intended, falls, of 
course, within the conscious inner area of Mind ; but numer- 
ous subsidiary elements in the plan would operate sub- 
consciously and thus affect only the field of Mind. 

It will be noticed that purpose or purposive activity 
involves much more than merely the influence of the future 
on the present. Purpose is the most complete proof of the 
freedom and creative power of the mind in respect of its 
material and other conditions, of its power to create its own 
conditions and to bring about its own situations for its own 
free activities. My purposive action is action which I have 
myself planned, which is not impressed on me or dictated 
to me by external necessity, and for the performance of 
which I take my own self -chosen measures. Through pur- 
pose the mind becomes at last master in its own house, with 
the power to carry out its own wishes and shape its own 
course, uninfluenced by the conditions of the environment. 

Again, purposive activity is peculiarly holistic. Elements 
both of the actual past and of anticipated future experience 
are fused with the present experience into one individual 
act, which as a conscious object of the mind dominates the 
entire situation within the purview of the purpose or plan. 
It involves not only sensations and perceptions, but also 
concepts of a complex character, feelings and desires in respect 
of the end desired, and volitions in respect of the act in- 
tended ; and all these elements are fused and blended into 
one unique purpose, which is then put into action or execu- 
tion. Purpose is thus probably the highest, most complex 
manifestation of the free, creative, holistic activity of Mind. 
Purpose is the door through which Mind finally escapes 


from the house of bondage and enters the free realm of its 
own sovereignty. The purposive teleological order is the 
domain of the free creative spirit, in which the ethical, 
spiritual, ideal nature of Mind has free scope for expansion 
and development. The realm of Ends, as Kant has called it, 
the realm of the great Values and Ideals is the destined home 
of Mind. And Holism it is that has guided the faltering foot- 
steps of Mind from its early organic responses and strivings 
and automatisms through the most amazing adventures and 
developments until at last it enters into its own. 

Let me conclude with a few further remarks on the holistic 
aspect of mental activity. 

In Chapters VI, VII and VIII I endeavoured to show, I 
trust not quite in vain, how Holism as a concept and an 
active factor can be made fruitful in biology, and can give 
us a method of dealing with the problems of life which 
may largely facilitate the proper solutions. The problems 
of Mechanism, of Body and Mind, of Evolution, and 
many others, all wear a different and more tractable 
form when viewed from the standpoint of Holism. I think 
I may fairly claim that the concept and function of Holism 
will prove even more valuable in the study of Mind, its 
activities and problems. Mind as a higher, more evolved 
organ of Holism will naturally exemplify the holistic stand- 
point more fully than life does. And the holistic concep- 
tion of mental activity appears to me to be specially helpful 
and to steer clear of most of the errors and misconceptions 
which have beset that difficult subject. The holistic con- 
ception of mental functioning explains at once why all the 
psychological activities from attention to judgment, and 
not only in intelligence but also in volition, action and emotion 
are synthetic in character, and result in associations, 
syntheses, groups, things, events, bodies and wholes. It was 
the unique service of Kant to psychology to discover the 
presence of the synthetic judgment at work already in the 
earliest forms of sensation and intuition ; and he signalised 
his discovery by applying to the subject in experience the 
truly Olympian name of the " synthetic unity of appercep- 


tion." The view of Mind as Holism leads straight to the 
same result, and quite simply and without the necessity to 
resort to any cumbrous psychological or metaphysical 
apparatus. The activity of Mind at all stages and in all 
forms is holistic, structural and synthetic, and its products 
show the same characters. The discriminative, selective, 
ordering, synthetic character which mental activity shows 
in all its higher operations is already fully present in its early 
beginnings, and flows indeed from its very nature as Holism. 
The various mental functions as dealt with in psychology, 
therefore, are simply so many examples of holistic activity 
on the mental plane. Analysis and discrimination may 
appear to be unholistic, but even they are but means to an 
end in the synthetic process ; the analysed and discrimin- 
ated elements being but a stepping-stone to more effective 
selective syntheses and groupings. It would be both interest- 
ing and useful to run through the various psychological 
activities and to show how they all exemplify and indeed 
flow from the nature and concept of Holism. The task would 
be easy, but it must be left to others. A good deal of 
interesting work in this direction has already been done by 
advocates of the " Gestalt " or Configuration psychology. 
In this sketch of the subject of Holism I can but confine 
myself to tracing the larger outlines, and leave particular 
clues to be followed up by others who may feel interested 
in the subject. 

Equally fruitful, in my opinion, will the application of 
Holism prove to the problems of metaphysics and the other 
higher disciplines of Mind. There is not a problem of Meta- 
physics, of Ethics, of Art and even of Religion which will not 
benefit enormously from contact with the concept of Holism. 
Indeed the concept and standpoint of Holism may transform 
many of their fundamental concepts and render obsolete 
many of the somewhat barren analytical speculations which 
are still current in philosophy. In this place I must be con- 
tent with this reference to the possibilities which lie along the 
path of holistic argument and research. These applications of 
the concept of Holism lie beyond the scope of the present work. 



Summary. Personality is the latest and supreme whole which 
has arisen in the holistic series of Evolution. It is a new structure 
built on the prior structures of matter, life and mind. The tendency 
has been to look upon it as a unique and isolated phenomenon, 
without any genetic relations with the rest of the universe. Our 
treatment, however, shows it to be one of a series, to be the culmin- 
ating phase of the great holistic movement in the universe. 

Mind is its most important and conspicuous constituent. But 
the body is also very important and gives the intimate flavour of 
humanity to Personality. The view which degrades the body as 
unworthy of the Soul or Spirit is unnatural and owes its origin to 
morbid religious sentiments. Science has come to the rescue of 
the body and thereby rendered magnificent service to human 
welfare. The ideal Personality only arises where Mind irradiates 
Body and Body nourishes Mind, and the two are one in their mutual 

The difficult question of the Body-and-Mind relation, already 
referred to in Chapter VII, arises once more in connection with 
Personality. As there pointed out, the root of the difficulty lies 
in the separation of the elements of Body and Mind and their hypo- 
stasis into independent entities. They are not independent reals; 
disembodied Mind and disminded Body are both impossible con- 
cepts, as either has only meaning and function in relation to the 
other. The popular view of their relation as one of mutual " inter- 
action " is not correct, as Mind does not so much act on Body as 
penetrate it, and thus act through or inside it. " Peraction " or 
" intro-action " would be preferable to " interaction " as a descrip- 
tion of the relation of Mind to Body. The extreme difficulty 
of conceiving how two such disparate entities as Mind and Body 
can influence each other has led to various theories of their inter- 
relation, such as that God is the medium and agent between 
them (Berkeley and Geulincx) ; that their separate action is inwardly 
brought into accord by a Pre-established Harmony (Leibniz) ; that 
they are but two modes of action of the one underlying Substance 
(Spinoza). The fact is that all these theories have an element of 
truth ; the real explanation being that Mind and Body are elements 



in the whole of Personality ; and that this whole is an inner creative, 
recreative and transformative activity, which accounts for all that 
happens in Personality as between its component elements. No 
explanation will hold water which ignores the most important 
factor of all in the situation, and that is the holistic Personality 
itself. Holism is the real creative agent, and not the entities 
suggested by the above philosophers. 

We see this same creative Holism in Personality when we come 
to consider our inheritance from our parents and ancestors, which 
consists of a definite animal body slightly differing from theirs, 
and a mental structure somewhat resembling theirs. My Person- 
ality itself, however, is indisputably mine, and is not inherited 
from them. It may in some respects resemble theirs, but its very 
essence is its unique individuality. The fact here too is that Person- 
ality is a unique creative novelty in every human being, and that 
no explanation which ignores this creative Holism can even pretend 
to account for Personality. 

For psychology and epistemology the individual Subject is the 
centre of orientation in all experience and reality; it is the Subject 
of experience to which all the rest is the Object of Experience. 
The appearance of Personality, therefore, marks a new and funda- 
mental departure in the evolution of the universe. These disciplines 
concentrate on the Subject as the centre of reference for experience 
without, however, paying sufficient attention to the nature of 
Personality in other respects. Ignoring the individual unique- 
ness of the Personality in each case, psychology deals with the 
average or generalised individual; and then only from the purely 
mental point of view, which is but one aspect of Personality. The 
result is that psychology does not materially assist us in the study 
of Personality. Personality is, in fact, largely an unexplored subject 
and requires a discipline to itself as a real factor in the universe. 
" Characterology " has been suggested as a name for the new discipline, 
but there are objections to it, and Personology is suggested as a 
better name. The " Person " is a concept of the Roman law, not 
of Greek philosophy, and the hybrid is therefore justified. 

Personology should begin by studying the biographies of human 
personalities as living wholes and unities in the successive phases 
of their development; in other words, synthetically, rather than 
analytically in the manner of psychology. Through such scientific 
studies of Personality we shall obtain the materials for formulating 
the laws of personal evolution and thus lay the foundations for a 
real science of Biography. We shall thus also obtain the basis of 
a sound theory of Personality and a proper science of Personology, 
which, as the synthetic science of human nature, will form the 
crown of all the sciences and become the basis for a new Ethic and 
Metaphysic and a truer spiritual outlook. 


To begin with, the lives for such holistic study should be care- 
fully selected, and suggestions are made on this point. The dis- 
cipline of Personology may thus lead to the solution of some of 
the oldest and hardest questions that have troubled the heart as 
well as the head of man. 

WE may begin this chapter by defining human Personality 
roughly in the language which we have adopted throughout 
the preceding discussion. Personality then is a new whole, 
is the highest and completest of all wholes, is the most 
recent conspicuous mutation in the evolution of Holism, 
is a creative synthesis in which the earlier series of material, 
organic and psychical wholes are incorporated with a fresh 
accession or emergence of Holism, and thus a new unique 
whole of a higher order than any of its predecessors arises. 
In Personality we reach the latest and highest phase of Holism 
and therefore the culminating problem, which all the pre- 
ceding discussion has led up to. Personality is the supreme 
embodiment of Holism both in its individual and its universal 
tendencies. It is the final synthesis of all the operative 
factors in the universe into unitary wholes, and both in its 
unity and its complexity it constitutes the great riddle of 
the universe. Best known of all subjects of knowledge 
and experience, nearest to us in all kinships and relation- 
ships, our very foundation and constitution, self of our 
very selves, it is yet the great mystery, the most elusive 
phantom in the whole range of knowledge. No wonder 
that some go the length even of denying its existence, and 
look upon it as a veritable phantasm of the mind. And 
yet it is the most real of all reals, the latest and fullest 
expression of the supreme reality, which gives reality to 
all other reals. Its uniqueness and its incomparability 
make it very difficult of approach by the usual methods of 
scientific procedure, and hence it has been avoided by 
science completely, and by psychology and philosophy to 
a very large extent. Perhaps our way of approach to it 
is a more hopeful one. At any rate our procedure will 
remove the impression that it is a unique and isolated 
phenomenon, something alone and by itself, a sort of 


Melchisedek of the universe, without any genetic connections 
or contacts with the rest of the universe. We approach it 
as one of a series, as the culminating phase of a graduated 
movement of which the earlier steps have been already 
explored. It thus takes its proper place in the great com- 
pany of the universe, and is no longer to be viewed as a 
secluded and unapproachable singularity. 

Let us first look at the constituents of Personality. 
Human Personality takes up into itself all that has gone 
before in the cosmic evolution of Holism. It is not only 
mental or spiritual but also organic and material. It is a 
new whole of the prior wholes; the structures of matter, 
life and mind are inseparably blended in it, and it is more 
than any or all of them. What that more is we shall con- 
sider just now ; in the meantime let us look at its constituents 
and their relations in the Personality. 

The most characteristic and certainly the most important 
constituent of Personality is Mind. Without conscious 
mind on the human level Personality could not be. And 
Personality had to await the arrival of Mind, the develop- 
ment of the organ of Mind, before it could start on its 
unique career. Mind has been the wing on which the 
human Personality has risen into the empyrean. 

The vast and almost overshadowing importance of the 
mental or spiritual factor must, however, not blind us to 
the significance of the other factors, which constitute the 
body or the physical organism of the human person. These 
physical organic factors are not only essential, but they also 
contribute most important features to the human Person- 
ality. The human Personality as disembodied spirit and 
devoid of its physical organism would indeed be some- 
thing utterly different from what it is. Flesh and blood 
may not be as important as the soul in the total human 
make-up, but they are essential and they bring something 
into the pool which is most vital and precious. So much 
so that the expression " flesh and blood " has become 
almost synonymous with humanity. What the Greek poet 
has called " dear flesh " is not only essential to human 


nature but gives it a quite peculiar and intimate flavour 
of humanity. Body is not alien and opaque but indeed 
transparent to spirit. And the body as transfigured by 
spirit in man is worthy to be the foundation of the most 
noble and exalted human Personality. The contempt for the 
body, the traditional degradation of the body, do not spring 
from a true view of human nature. The natural and proper 
tendency is to look upon the body as clean and wholesome, 
to rejoice in it as something good and beautiful, to make 
it twin-sister of the spirit and the embodiment of joyous- 
ness and wholesome pleasure. That view of the body finds 
characteristic expression in Greek literature. It may be a 
pagan view, but in reality it is the human and true view. 
It led to respect and reverence for the body, and the culture 
of the body as a worthy companion of the spirit. This 
natural and wholesome attitude towards the body was 
poisoned by the morbid, diseased, religious spirit of a later 
time which heaped contempt and degradation on the body. 
Degraded religions from the East, born amid the filth and 
squalor, the moral and social decay of the Oriental world, 
invaded the Roman Empire and found a congenial soil in 
the moral and religious confusion which had set in among 
Roman society. The decline of the Empire, the ruin which 
followed the barbaric invasions, the slow but sure decay of 
Roman civilisation, and the growing spirit of dejection and 
despair which was inevitable under these calamities made 
men turn a ready ear to the base superstitions of the East, 
which outraged the human spirit and degraded the human 
body into an instrument of evil. Even the pure spirit of 
Christianity succumbed to some extent to this perversion, 
and instead of the body being regarded as " the Temple of 
the Holy Spirit " it came to be looked upon as a fitter 
tabernacle for the devil. Mediaeval civilisation succumbed to 
and accentuated this horror of the flesh ; the monastic system 
with its ideal of celibacy for the educated and spiritual elite 
bears eloquent testimony to the great fall of the body. 
The flesh became synonymous with sin. And it was not 
till the revolution in the human standpoint brought about 


by the Renaissance that the body came to be in part re- 
habilitated and once more to be looked upon with some- 
thing of the old pagan favour. The full rehabilitation is, 
however, coming only now at the hands of science. Science 
is building up a new world-attitude, a new attitude towards 
Nature and all things natural, which is totally at variance 
with this morbid and unnatural condemnation of the flesh. 
The scientific attitude is impartial and objective and leads 
to the view of Nature as clean, wholesome and worthy of 
the respect which is due to all natural facts. Thus a new 
spirit of respect and reverence for natural things and pro- 
cesses is arising, and not least for the human body a spirit 
which is far deeper and better founded than the old happy- 
go-lucky, naive, pagan attitude of the Greek world. It is 
not a nai've sentimental, but an objective scientific attitude. 
It means justice and fair-play for the body, as against all 
theological prejudices and theories based on erroneous views 
of human nature. And it completely justifies the normal 
attitude which regards the body as inseparable from the 
spirit, and as the source of much that is most dear and 
precious and beautiful and intimate in human existence. 
Natural relations and affinities, instead of being condemned, 
receive the sanction of science, and under the powerful 
patronage and protection of science the simple human can 
once more hold up its head and without shame or regret 
give expression to the spirit of glad wholesome enjoyment 
which naturally wells up from its inner depths. The 
rehabilitation of the body is not the least of the magnificent 
services which science has rendered to human welfare. 
The body is no worse than the spirit, and can be abused 
just as the spirit can be perverted. Holism is the cure 
and remedy alike for the abuse and perversion. It is the 
severance of body and spirit which makes the ignoble use 
of either possible. Together and in that unity which 
constitutes the whole they mutually support, enrich and 
ennoble each other. It is the division in their ranks which 
leads to their defeat in detail. And hence it is that Holism 
is not only a theory but should also be a practice. What 


theory points out as true becomes here an ideal for life. 
When spirit irradiates body and body gives massive nourish- 
ment to spirit, the ideal of the creative whole as the antithesis 
of evil is realised in Personality. 

The language we have just used seems to imply some form 
of active inter-relation between the elements in Personality. 
We seem to assume that body and mind must mutually 
influence each other in the whole which constitutes Person- 
ality. The most difficult and important question, therefore, 
arises how such mutual influence has to be understood. 
Do body and mind interact with each other, and how can 
such interaction be conceived in view of the considerations 
which were set out in Chapter VII ? The difficulties of 
thought, serious as they are, are here no doubt largely 
increased by the defects of language. As soon as the 
" whole " of Personality is analysed into its constituent 
elements, the elements by the defects of thought and 
language alike come to be treated as different things, which 
thereafter can only be brought back again into relation 
with each other by way of an assumed mutual interaction. 
Thus arise the division and separation of body and mind 
which form the very source of the evils we are trying to counter 
and combat. Thus again, on the basis of this division, the 
separated elements come to be hypostatised into separate 
entities or substances, which are supposed to interact with 
each other. Our perfectly fair and justifiable attempt at 
analysing Personality into mind and body has landed us in 
an inextricable confusion, which has vexed the soul of 
philosophy for hundreds of years. In Chapter VII, I pointed 
out that it was this substantiation or hypos tasis, as indi- 
vidual reals, of elements which have meaning and reality 
only as elements in a whole, that is the source of the result- 
ing conundrums. The holistic view of Personality, of 
Personality as an integral whole, and not as a compound 
of independently real substances, is the only solvent for 
these difficulties and misunderstandings. 

It may, however, be objected that this holistic view with 
its implied suppression or merger of body and mind and 


the disappearance of both in the Personality is not a fair 
and honest way of meeting these difficulties. Surely, it 
will be urged, body is a real, a substance on its own merits, 
and not a mere abstract element in human Personality. 
It will be pointed out that at an earlier stage I have treated 
organism as a real whole, as a holistic structure ; that the 
human body is nothing but an organism and that it is not 
fair in its human connection to condemn organism as 
having no reality of its own apart from the Person to whom 
it belongs. I have stated the objection because it opens 
the way to the explanation I wish to suggest. A living 
independent organism is in a different position from the 
human body. The human body is organic, but cannot be 
considered an independent organism, living in a sort of 
symbiosis with another substance called mind. Let any- 
body try to form an idea of a human body divorced from 
all mental attributes and activities and supporting an 
independent existence of its own, merely as an organism. 
It would not be the human body, whose every organ and 
activity has a mind-ward aspect and implies mental function- 
ing. Subtract mind, and the residue of body must shrink 
and shrivel into an unimaginable scrap-heap of organic 
activities. Similarly it is impossible to conceive mind as 
abstracted from the body. The disembodied soul is just 
as impossible a concept as the disminded body. Thus it is 
that the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection has pro- 
vided the risen soul with a " spiritual body/* 1 the linea- 
ments of which can only, however, be discerned by the eye 
of faith. 

Assuming then that body and mind are not independent 
reals and have meaning and reality only as elements in the 
one real substantive whole of Personality, the question 
arises how we have to conceive or understand their mutual 
relations as elements in that whole. How does mind 
influence body and vice versa in human Personality? All 
language implies such influence ; all experience implies and 
assumes that mind has an influence on body, and body on 

1 i Cor. xv. 44. 


mind. In Chapter VII I have tried to show that such 
influence does not imply a violation of the laws of physical 
energy on the one hand, and does not necessitate the inter- 
vention of a deus ex machina like Entelechy on the other. 
The situation is entirely holistic, and Holism here as else- 
where gives the basis of the required explanation. Let us 
first consider the alternative views which have been held 
on the subject. 

(a) The popular and, I believe, still the common view 
among philosophers is that of " interaction "; that is to 
say, that body and mind mutually and directly act on 
each other. This view, if rightly understood, does not, as 
I have said, come into conflict with natural laws. But it 
is open to another very formidable objection. How can 
direct action of the physical or material on the mental or 
spiritual and vice versa be conceived ? The two supposed 
interacting factors are not of the same order at all; in 
what way the one can " act " on the other seems not only 
unintelligible but absolutely inconceivable. 

(b) In view of this very grave objection, as well as 
other objections, many thinkers have simply adopted the 
view that the physical and the mental are two parallel 
series, which do not act on each other but run parallel 
to each other, without any attempt to explain the ground 
of this psycho-physical parallelism. The objection to this 
is that one series does seem to influence the other, and 
not merely to run parallel to it. Our consciousness in 
voluntary action, for instance, does seem to reveal most 
clearly that our mental state can influence external actions 
in a particular direction. 

(c) Others, again, while admitting the difficulty of con- 
ceiving how the physical and the mental can act on each 
other, have introduced a mediating concept or agency to 
help the difficulty out. Thus, just as the difficulty of 
conceiving action at a distance has been mediated by the 
conception of the ether of space as a medium for such 
action, so a supernatural medium has been assumed to 
render possible the interaction of such incommensurables 


as mind and body. Leibniz has assumed a pre-established 
Harmony as existing between them and in other respects in 
the universe; Berkeley and some of the Cartesians have 
assumed that all interaction takes place in God, the divine 
medium and cause of all happening in the universe. 

(d) Finally, there is the view, of which Spinoza's may be 
taken as the type, that the universe is but one Substance, 
of which both the physical and mental series are particular 
and related modes of activity; the causality which con- 
nects them may therefore be supposed to reside in the 
underlying Substance which unites them both. This view 
is not entirely unlike the immediately preceding one; for 
the God of Berkeley and others may be taken to corres- 
pond to the divine Substance of Spinoza's universe. 

These are the main types of views which have been held on 
this, perhaps the most difficult subject in all philosophy; and 
to me all of them seem to contain some elements of truth 
and value. The holistic conception will not only assist us 
to regard this subject from a new point of view, but it will 
do justice to the efforts of those who have laboured at this 
problem before. 

In the first place, then, I may point out that the term 
" interaction " does not seem well-chosen to describe the 
relations of two such disparate entities as the physical 
and the mental. Interaction seems to assume a common 
platform of action, action on more or less the same level. 
But we have seen that the structures of matter, life and 
mind are on quite different levels of organisation and 
inwardness. The one acts inside the other and through 
the other. To use a metaphor, the mesh of the one is 
much finer than that of the other ; the lower is transparent 
to the higher structure, which therefore penetrates it and 
represents an inner activity which was not there before. 
Action through or inside, " peraction " or " intro-action," 
would therefore be nearer the mark than " interaction " 
in describing the action of elements in wholes with respect 
to each other. Mind in "volition" is an inner self- 
direction of the structure of Body, as I explained in 


Chapter VII. Body, again, in giving rise to mental 
" sensation," is simply performing that mutation or crea- 
tive leap, which we have found at every other stage of 

In the second place, and what is even more important, 
the whole is an active mediating factor in whatever action 
takes place among its elements. We have referred in 
previous chapters to the metabolic transformative activity 
of organic wholes in respect of all stimuli or materials 
which affect them from the outside. The organic whole 
itself acts creatively, and subtly changes all alien stimuli 
or material into its own form and structure. It is the 
very nature of the whole in each particular case to display 
this inner creative, recreative and transformative activity. 
We see it not only in the organism but even more con- 
spicuously in psychic wholes. Thus sensations arise from 
bodily states or affections. Now in all that happens 
between the elements in a whole this subtle, creative, 
holistic factor intervenes. Mind and body as elements in 
the human Personality influence each other because of 
their co-presence in this creative whole of Personality. 
The real actor is the Holism in and of which they are 
but parts and elements. It is this subtle inner meta- 
boliser or creator which makes all the difference. It 
is not so much a case of mind and body interacting; 
rather is it a case of holistic Personality dominating 
the scene where both of them but humbly serve or 
subserve. It is the Holism in which they both " live, 
move and have their being " that is the real explanation 
of whatever happens or appears to happen between 
them. It is the Third, which is greater than both of 
them, that really counts in the action or peraction. To 
me this, or something like this, is the last word in the 
relations of mind and body, of the spiritual and the physical. 
It may sound strange and mystic ; but it is the simple fact 
that the whole, in this case Personality, makes all the 
difference. Just as Kant at last gave the explanation of 
mental activity by pointing to the central " synthetic unity 


of apperception," in other words, to the holistic Subject as 
the pervading dominating factor, so here all action of 
whatever kind, which happens between mind and body in 
human Personality, is to be traced to and ultimately 
accounted for by the holistic Personality itself, and its 
creative shaping of all that happens to or in it. Any 
explanation which ignores the Personality itself must 
necessarily miss the mark. 

We now see what is the real explanation of Berkeley 
and Geulincx's appeal to God, of Leibniz's appeal to Pre- 
established Harmony, and of Spinoza's appeal to Substance, 
as the mediator of action between the mind and the body 
in man, between the spiritual and the physical orders in 
the universe. The whole in each case is the explanation; 
the whole as Personality in the human case, the whole as 
organism in the situation of life and energy. All such 
action is synthetic and holistic in its very essence, and no 
explanation which ignores the whole and its creative 
metabolism in such action can be considered satisfactory. 

It may be objected that this " explanation " involves 
an even greater mystery than that which was to be explained. 
No doubt we are here moving in a world of mystery, but at 
any rate the mystery is now rightly placed. We have 
traced it to its source in the Holism which makes and 
guides the universe and all its unit structures great and small ; 
and particularly to Personality as a form of Holism. Beyond 
that final source no explanation can be traced. Personality 
is a mystery, but at any rate we can attempt to locate it in 
the order and evolution of the universe. In the relations 
of mind and body Personality is no mere indifferent spectator 
or passive tertium quid, and the explanation of those relations 
must in the last resort be sought in the creative activity of 
the Personality itself. When we analyse material structure 
into its elements, we can practically afford to ignore every- 
thing else besides those elements themselves, because the 
traces of Holism in such a structure are so faint as to be 
almost imperceptible. When, however, we go on to analyse 
an organic whole into its elements, we notice at once that 


there must be something more besides those elements, 
something commonly called life which holds all those 
elements together in a living unity. This " something 
more " we have identified as Holism, and we have explained 
it as not something additional quantitatively, but as a 
more refined and intimate structural relation of the elements 
themselves. When, proceeding yet higher or deeper, we 
reach psychic wholes, we become even more keenly aware 
of the presence and unmistakable function, the free creative 
activity of this holistic something. And when, finally, we 
reach the level of personal wholes which include all these 
earlier less complex holistic types, we find all explanations 
of action, relation and interaction among the elements 
futile and hopeless which ignore this deeper relation, this 
holistic setting, this active creative Holism which unites 
all the elements into unique wholes. I believe that previous 
attempts to state the relations of body and mind in the 
human Personality have largely failed because the holistic 
character of the Personality itself as the dominating factor 
in the situation has been tacitly ignored. It is, however, 
unnecessary to labour the point further in this connection, 
as the whole trend of our argument in this work goes to 
emphasise the importance of the holistic factor in all reality, 
and a fortiori in the highest reality of which we are directly 
conscious, viz. in our Personality. Any explanation which 
leaves the Personality out of account in these matters is simply 
like the play of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. 

Let us now approach the same point from another angle. 
What is the relation of this Personality to our inheritance 
from our ancestors? The general principles of organic 
descent were discussed in Chapter VIII, and an attempt 
was there made to show the intimate activity of the holistic 
factor in all organic Evolution. In the last chapter, again, 
it was shown how psychic Evolution differed from organic 
Evolution in general; and it was pointed out that the 
difference was principally this, that while in organic Evolu- 
tion more or less definite specific modes of reaction to 
stimuli were inherited, in psychic Evolution, on the other 


hand, a general plasticity of reaction was inherited, an 
indefinite range of acquiring experience, a vast capacity of 
learning in the individual life how to react to any particular 
stimulus which might happen to come along. The animal, 
therefore, appears with its very limited range of faculties 
ready made, so to say, and in its individual life learns very 
little beyond this definite endowment for specific activities. 
The human person, on the contrary, has in addition to its 
organic animal inheritance a psychic inheritance which 
endows it with the capacity for educability, with a capacity 
for acquiring new experience and learning new ways of 
acting and reacting, which raises it infinitely above the 
merely animal phase. The free, creative, holistic activity of 
mind appears conspicuously in its hereditary transmission, 
so that our human inheritance does not fetter us, but by 
its very nature confers plasticity, freedom and creativeness 
upon us. What we inherit is not a ready-made affair but 
a wide possibility and potency of moulding ourselves in 
our lives. In other words, what above all is inherited is 
freedom, and the capacity of free and self-determined 
action and development in our individual lives. In our 
psychic nature we are thus raised above the bondage of 
organic inheritance. 

Now what does this imply? Surely this, that there is 
something more in us over and above this inherited endow- 
ment. The freedom must belong to an agent ; the plasticity 
implies a creative moulder. I inherit various capacities, 
but my own Personality itself is not inherited, but is uniquely 
and originally mine. I inherit a definite animal body, 
slightly different from those of my parents and ancestors; 
I likewise inherit a mental structure, somewhat resembling 
theirs, but much less so than my body resembles theirs. 
But over and above this organic and psychic inheritance 
there is an individuality, an individual personality, which 
makes of this double inheritance a uniquely different blend 
and composition. The flavour of each human person is 
uniquely and absolutely individual. However similar the 
inheritance may be, yet I am a new person, a new 


self -consciousness, a personal centre absolutely distinguished 
from those who gave birth to me and transmitted their 
qualities to me. The unique whole, called Personality, 
is not inherited, however much its constituent qualities and 
elements have been inherited. And the very character of 
the inheritance implies a new conscious centre to which they 
belong, a centre which will organise them freely and creatively 
into a new unity. Freedom and plasticity belong not to 
the experience but to the experiencer. It is the personal 
self-conscious centre that is free and plastic and creative, 
just as the artist is free and creative, and not the pigments 
with which he works. 

This line of reasoning leads to somewhat curious results. 
It will be asked whether there is then a fresh creation of 
Personality at each generation ; whether human Personality 
is original and underived in the sense that it is newly created 
with each human being. On the holistic theory here put 
forward there seems no denying this " creationism," as it 
has been called. And it is best to recognise at once that 
with human Personality we enter a domain of creationism, 
a domain where, far more than elsewhere in nature, creation 
is at work. We have called Evolution creative; we have 
seen how creative newness enters at every stage of the 
evolutionary advance. As the process advances this crea- 
tiveness increases and intensifies, until in the origin of the 
highest known structures, that is to say in human Person- 
alities, the creativeness rises to a maximum in relation to the 
inherited materials used in the new structures. Our very 
conception of Personality is that it is a unique creative 
novelty in every human being. 

From this it must, however, not be inferred that the 
phenomenon of Personality should be a most uncertain and 
wildly fluctuating one ; that having no roots in the past and 
being a creative novelty on each separate occasion, it might 
be expected to rise and fall with quite incalculable uncer- 
tainty. Like all the other holistic structures of Evolution, 
Personality shows a fair average constancy and probably a 
tendency to rise slowly throughout the generations. And this 


is only natural considering the general constancy of the in- 
herited materials which go towards its composition, as well 
as the constancy of the general environment in any nation or 
people. But it does show much more individual fluctuation 
than any other structures in the whole range of Evolution. 
There is evidently no hereditary character in Personality 
as such; great Personalities arise from generations of the 
commonplace; and, again, the great Personality may be 
followed by generations of the undistinguished. There is 
utter uncertainty in detail, which goes to prove that with 
Personality we are in the region of contingency and unpre- 
dictability, and that it is not possible to formulate for 
Personality a law of sequence in the generations. In fact 
Personality may be compared to biological sports. We 
know that a species which has its origin in some great sport 
or mutation often shows a markedly fluctuating character 
and continues to sport and to show great variability among 
its individuals in many directions. This is true in a super- 
lative degree of Personality, whose sportive freedom is 
perhaps its most marked general feature. Still even so 
there is on an average a fair amount of regularity and con- 
stancy, with probably a slow tendency to rise in the scale 
in the passage of the generations. Even this great spiritual 
sport (as we may call it) may find its law in the end. But at 
present it is still utterly individual and incalculable. It 
is, however, not a mere passing accident or freak of Evo- 
lution. It is in line with the whole trend of Evolution ; it 
is a crowning phase of all that has gone before, and if to-day 
it is still vastly variable and fluctuating, that is so because 
of its youth, because it has had no time yet to develop firm 
and constant characters ; because it is a whole in the making 
rather than a whole completely achieved. But its imma- 
turity does not detract either from its merits or its claims. 
It is a youthful God destined to complete mastery over the 
old regular Routine, and to achieve Freedom, Creativeness 
and Value on a scale undreamt of by us of to-day. 

From the foregoing it will be seen that the theory of 
Personality as a real factor is necessary not only to explain 


the synthetic relations of the constituent elements in the 
complex human being, but also to explain the peculiar 
character of heredity on the human level. Without Person- 
ality the Body-and-Mind relation in man appears inex- 
plicable; without Personality, again, man's independence 
of his hereditary bonds and fixtures would be equally 
inexplicable. In both respects a far-reaching holistic 
factor in the nature of Personality is at work, which cannot 
be ignored without making the entire human situation an 
insoluble puzzle. 

There is a third point of view which lays a strong emphasis 
on the individual holistic factor which underlies Personality. 
That is the point of view of Psychology and Epistemology 
generally. Both these great disciplines erect the human 
Subject into a new centre of orientation for all experience 
of reality. From the purely biological point of view 
Personality is merely the highest term of a rising series; 
but it is not a new and unique point of departure in the 
universe. Psychology and Epistemology, however, regard 
Personality from this radical point of view. To them it is 
the Subject of experience to which all the rest is the Object 
of experience. The Personality as the subject in experience 
marches right to the centre of the world-picture ; it becomes 
the key and the measure of all things; to it all things 
become relative in experience. In the new universe of 
experience, in the world of Spirit, the conscious self or the 
Personality becomes the new point of universal reference; 
the co-ordinates of reference are its co-ordinates, as we saw 
in the last chapter; and without this personal orientation 
all experience becomes inexplicable and all reality unintelli- 
gible. We may indeed say that as soon as Personality 
appears on the scene, the whole universe becomes reorganised, 
transformed and almost recreated round it as the new centre ; 
the universe is no longer the same as it was before Personality 
but undergoes a radical change in the subtle process of 
human experience. Just as Personality is essentially a new 
creation, so the world which is its Object in experience is like- 
wise in a sense a new creation out of the old materials. The 


appearance of Personality, therefore, marks a new departure. 
It is not merely an addition to the universe but involves 
in some respects an organic transformation of it. On this 
lofty pedestal psychology and philosophy alike place the 
personal self or Personality; and surely in this apparent 
anthropomorphism they are right. 

But it is perhaps doubtful whether they have fully 
appreciated the implications of their action. Neither 
psychology nor philosophy has made much of the Person- 
ality except to look upon it as a peg on which to hang the 
universe. The Personality as a point of reference, the 
Personality as a great Signpost in the universe appears to 
them all-important. But in itself, in what it is, in what 
its uniqueness consists, they have not taken any very 
profound interest. Now in this they seem to me to have 
missed the real point, and in consequence they have 
failed to appreciate the real, as distinct from the merely 
formal importance of the factor of Personality in the 

The treatment that psychology has given to Personality 
is another instance of this failure to appreciate its real and 
unique significance. Psychology as a scientific discipline 
deals with the human mind, not in its individual uniqueness, 
but in its general character as distinguishing all human 
beings. The individual within the purview of psychology 
is the generalised individual, the average individual, not the 
real individual, but the individual which is the creature of 
an intellectual abstraction. In its treatment psychology 
is, of course, only following the general procedure of science, 
which is not concerned with the individual as such, but with 
the common characters of individuals, with the specific 
type more than the actual individual. Thus if Science deals 
with a plant or an animal it may be any individual of the 
particular species under consideration. The individual differ- 
ences are generally considered negligible, and one individual 
is for purposes of scientific treatment as a rule the same as 
any other individual. Science is a generalising scheme and 
must necessarily ignore individual differences. 


Now with human personalities, the individual differences, 
so far from being negligible, are all-important. Each human 
individual is a unique personality; not only is personality 
in general a unique phenomenon in the world, but each 
human personality is unique in itself, and the attempt at 
" averaging " and generalising and reaching the common 
type on the approved scientific lines eliminates what is the 
very essence of Personality, namely, its unique individual 
character in each case. The scientific procedure of 
psychology, inevitable as it is for psychology as a scientific 
discipline, is not very suitable in respect of a subject so 
specially individual as Personality. But that is not all. 
Psychology does not even purport to deal specially with 
Personality. Its subject is more especially mind, mental 
activity in its wider sense, the genesis and development of 
the mental functions in the average human individual. 
But, as we have seen, mind is merely one particular aspect 
of Personality. The contribution towards Personality which 
comes from the organic side is in important respects ignored 
by psychology. But this contribution of the body is most 
important ; we know from practical experience in our 
personal lives how important bodily functions and our 
general physiological state are in the total make-up of the 
Personality. Our nervous system, our digestive system, 
above all our reproductive system have the most far-reaching 
reactions on our Personality as a whole. A little more iodine 
in the thyroid gland, for instance, may make the greatest 
difference, not only for the general co-ordination of physio- 
logical functions and bodily development as a whole, but 
for the mind itself, and may even mean all the difference 
between normal and deficient mentality, between normal 
and stunted Personality. All this physiological side of 
Personality, important as it is in its effects, simply falls 
outside the scope of psychology and is assigned to other 
branches of science. 

The result of this limitation of the province of psychology 
is that even the mental side of Personality fails to be properly 
explored and understood. The subconscious Mind is still 


largely an unexplored territory, and but for the recent 
pioneering work of the psycho-analysts would have been 
almost entirely unknown. And yet it will be generally 
admitted that this province of the subconscious is most 
important, not only for mental science itself, but more 
especially for the knowledge of the Personality in any 
particular case. For most minds, perhaps for all minds, 
the conscious area is small compared with the subconscious 
area; and beyond the subconscious area is the probably 
still larger organic or physiological area of the nervous, 
digestive, endocrine and reproductive systems, which all 
concern the Personality most vitally and closely. It is 
evident that the present demarcation of areas between the 
various sciences makes it difficult if not impossible to deal 
adequately with so large and embracive a subject as Person- 
ality. Personality is deserving of having a discipline to itself 
which will not leave it merely in the position of having to 
be dealt with in a haphazard and incidental way by a 
number of other distinct disciplines. Hitherto, so far from 
having a field of its own and being a study by itself, it has 
been a sort of nondescript annex of psychology. But, as 
we have seen, the province of psychology is much too narrow 
and limited for the purpose of Personality; and both its 
method and procedure as a scientific discipline fail to do 
justice to the uniquely individual character of the Personality. 
It has a third and no less serious drawback as a basis for 
a discipline of the Personality. The procedure of psychology 
is largely analytical; it involves an analysis of mental 
functions and activities, and a detailed study of their several 
lines of development ; and in exceptional cases a perfunctory 
effort is finally made to view mind or character as a whole. 
But mostly the last part is either avoided altogether or 
attempted in such a half-hearted manner as to be of com- 
paratively slight value. Take, for instance, Professor 
James Ward's Psychological Principles, which is not only a 
standard work but embodies and expands what has become 
the great classic in psychology in the English language. It 
consists of eighteen chapters, the first four of which are 


devoted to a general analysis and description of mental 
functions, while the main body of the work, consisting of 
twelve chapters, contains a detailed discussion of the various 
forms of mental activity, such as sensation, perception, 
imagination, memory, feeling, emotion, and action, intellec- 
tion, forms of synthesis in the judgment, intuition, and the 
categories, belief, and the elements of conduct. The last 
two chapters only are devoted to the concrete individual 
and characterology, and form merely a distant approach to 
the subject of Personality. No one will deny that from a 
purely psychological point of view the method and procedure 
of Professor Ward are both proper and unexceptionable. 
But the necessarily analytical character of psychology 
largely disqualifies it from being a real foundation for a 
doctrine of Personality. Psychology has, in fact, a different 
scope and aim from that which would be natural and proper 
for a subject like Personality. It is but one of several 
preparatory studies leading up to the subject of Personality 
without actually grappling with it. 

The result has been that from a psychological or any other 
practical point of view very little attention has been devoted 
to the study of Personality. Personality has been the 
concern of no particular branch of study, and it still awaits 
a proper treatment of its own as a distinct discipline among 
other scientific and philosophical disciplines. Its province 
falls within the large debatable territory between science 
and philosophy, between theory and practice, which has 
been very little explored and is still terra incognita to all 
intents and purposes. Its difficulties are immense; from 
that wide and wild No Man's Land between science and 
philosophy it rises like some forbidding mountain peak into 
the heavens ; and no daring mountaineer has yet ventured 
to approach it, let alone to scale its dizzy heights. But 
beyond a doubt it is going to occupy a foremost place in 
the attention of inquirers in future. And the time may 
come when the science of Personality may be the very 
keystone of the arch, and serve to complete the full growing 
circle of organised human knowledge. That time is not yet ; 


but I may venture to hope that the assignment of a proper 
place to Personality in the structural Evolution of the 
universe, such as has been attempted in this study, will help 
to direct attention to what is undoubtedly one of the greatest 
and most important outstanding problems of knowledge. 

Professor Ward has suggested that that branch of psycho- 
logy which deals with concrete individuals, with individuals 
as persons endowed with character, should be called 
" Characterology." l I am not clear that Characterology 
in this sense would be the same as the Science of Personality 
which I am discussing. The term " character " seems to me 
narrower than Personality, and to refer to the external 
indicia rather than the inward reality which the term 
Personality here points to. And in any case Characterology 
does not seem suitable as a name for the science of Person- 
ality. For these and other reasons, and if a name is really 
necessary, I would suggest Personology as the name for the 
Science of Personality, which will not be a mere subdivision 
of psychology but an independent science or discipline of 
its own, with its roots not only in psychology but also in all 
the sciences which deal with the human mind and the human 
body. As I have just pointed out, it is a border subject be- 
tween the provinces of Science and Philosophy and will sho'v 
the influence of both these great subdivisions of knowledge. 

Prima facie Personology seems a more suitable name for 
the science or doctrine of Personality than the cacophonous 
mouthful " Characterology/' But it may be objected that 
Personology is a Grseco-Latin hybrid and unacceptable as 
such. It may, however, be pointed out that there is a 
peculiar reason for a term which is not purely Greek but calls 
in the resources of the Latin language also. For it is a 
curious fact that Greek philosophy, in spite of its brilliant 
achievements and its inspired mintage of most of the current 
coin of philosophy, never rose to a clear grasp of the idea of 
Personality. Thus it is that there is no term in Greek to 
express the notion of Personality. Persona is a Latin term 
and a Roman idea evolved, like so many other juristic ideas, 

1 Psychological Principles, p. 431. 


by the legal genius of the Romans, which was in its way as 
remarkable as the philosophical genius of the Greeks. 
Persona in the Roman law denoted the legal status of the 
individual who was by law clothed with rights and duties 
in his own right ; the individual as the carrier of rights and 
duties in his own right was a persona ; from a mere individual 
nonentity he became in law a persona and acquired a legal 
personality Thus in the classical Roman law a slave, 
being without legal rights, was a human without persona. 
The developed Roman law came to extend the concept of 
personality beyond natural individuals to non-corporeal 
companies and societies which had by law a legal entity 
and could have rights and duties. Personality thus was 
a matter of legal status, and denoted the legal dignity 
and importance of the individual or the group. The clear 
juristic concept of persona was a very good basis for the 
superstructure of the psychic ethical Personality which has 
been built upon it. 

To the evolution of the modern idea of Personality, 
Christianity made the most notable contribution in investing 
the human being as such with a character of sacredness, of 
spiritual dignity and importance, which implied a far- 
reaching revolution in ethical ideas. The Roman legal 
concept thus became blended with the moral sacredness and 
inalienable rights of human beings as children of God ; and 
philosophy raised the enriched term to the dignity and status 
of a high philosophical conception. It has been my endea- 
vour to go a step farther and to trace the concept of Person- 
ality to its real relationships in the order of the universe, 
to show it as not merely a juristic or religious or philosophical 
concept, but as a real factor which forms the culminating 
phase in the synthetic creative Evolution of the universe. 
The Roman traced persona to the authority of the law. 
The Christian traced Personality to the fatherhood of God 
which conferred it on all human beings as a sacred birthright. 
The Philosopher has translated this religious idea into the 
universal language of the ethical Reason. Here Personality 
becomes the last term in the holistic series, a reality in line 


with the other realities which mark the creative forward 
march of Holism. 

Personality has thus been explained above as personal 
Holism, as the whole in its human fullness of development. 
Human personal development thus means the creative 
synthetic whole in control of all special functions and 
activities, of all organs and their functions. The activities 
of the body and the mind do not embrace the whole of 
personal development. There is more in the central syn- 
thetic Personality than an analysis of psychological and 
physiological functions can explain. Just as in the specialised 
organs of sense, the underlying basis of sensitivity, the 
original sensus communis, develops pari passu with the 
special senses and co-ordinates and supplements their 
activities in the sensuous wholes of intuition, so also the 
central holistic Personality develops pari passu with all the 
specialised mental and bodily functions, and produces out 
of their deliverances those syntheses and unities which are 
distinctive of personal experience. All experience, all 
intuitions, judgments, actions, beliefs and other mental acts 
are holistic products of Personality. There is no internal 
chemistry which binds these products together into unities 
other than Personality itself. In Personality, even more 
than in the earlier structures of Evolution, the whole is in 
charge, and all development and activity can only be properly 
understood when viewed as being of a holistic character, 
instead of being the separate activities of special organs, 
or the separate products of special mental functions. 
Synthesis and unity are of the whole, and not of the parts. 
Holism is in all personal activity, and is the only basis on 
which such activity can be properly understood. 

What should be the procedure of the new discipline of 
Personology ? It should, of course, take cognisance of the 
special analytical contributions of psychology and physiology, 
and of all the other human sciences, individual and social, 
theoretical and practical. But it should do more. Following 
the course above indicated, that the Personality is uniquely 
individual and that this special individual character should 


not be ignored, it should study the biography of noted 
personalities as expressions of the developing Personality 
in each case. Such a study of personal biographies will 
not only have the advantage of bringing out the individual 
differences among personalities, instead of blurring all differ- 
ences in a generalised composite picture of Personality. It 
will have the further and quite priceless advantage of study- 
ing personalities synthetically as living unities and wholes 
rather than in the analytical manner of psychology and the 
other human sciences. In biography we have to follow the 
development of a person as a whole, as a living biological 
psychical entity, and we are therefore in a position to correct 
the one-sided abstract generalised results of the analytical 
procedure of these sciences. The study of biographies as 
examples of personal Holism, as examples of the develop- 
ment of Personality, will lead to very interesting and 
important results. 

In the first place, we shall thus get the materials for 
formulating the laws of personal evolution. In the second 
place, these laws will form the foundation for a new science of 
Biography which will take the place of the empirical unsatis- 
factory patchwork affair which biography now mostly is. In 
the third place, the gradual accumulation of biographical facts 
and data bearing on personal evolution will not only lead to the 
formulation of the laws of this evolution, but will give the 
basis for a sound theory of Personality and a proper science of 
Personology. Personology as the science of Personality, as 
the synthetic science of Human Nature, will form the crown 
of all the sciences and in turn become the basis of a new 
Ethic, a new Metaphysic, and of a truer spiritual outlook 
than we can possibly have in the ignorance and confusions 
of our present state of knowledge. To my mind the basis 
for all these great developments can only be laid in a new bio- 
graphical aim and method, which will give us the facts which 
are vitally necessary for any sound scientific constructions. 

The lives for this scientific study as examples of personal 
holistic evolution will have to be carefully selected, if effort 
is not to be largely wasted. There are many types of 


personality which would not be specially suitable for studying 
personal evolution. There is, for instance, the type which 
does not seem to possess an inner evolution. Many dis- 
tinguished persons appear to be full grown in early manhood 
and thereafter to undergo no further growth. Their develop- 
ment reaches maturity early in life, and thereafter appears 
to be arrested. I may mention Carlyle as an instance ; his 
first great work, Sartor Resartus, was a complete and final 
exposition of his inner self, and no further development of 
his inner life seems to have taken place thereafter. This 
phenomenon of early maturity and arrest of further develop- 
ment is by no means unusual. We meet it in the case of 
many persons in our circle of acquaintances who somehow 
don't seem to grow, but to stand still after arriving at a 
certain comparatively early age. We meet it again in the 
tragic case of those authors who write a famous book early 
in life and thereafter can do no more than repeat themselves 
with less and less freshness and ever-waning originality. All 
these instances simply point to arrested development, to the 
absence of a capacity for inner growth. As Personality is 
best studied in its genetic development, as its plastic inward- 
ness is best seen in the successive phases it assumes in a 
continuously growing, expanding human being, it follows 
that the exceptional stationary or early maturing person- 
alities afford less favourable material for the study of 
human Personality as a whole. 

There is another class of persons unsuitable for our pur- 
pose, consisting of those who do not seem to have much of 
an inner self at all, whose activities and interests are all of 
an external character, who live not the inner life of the 
spirit but the external life of affairs. We often notice this 
feature in the lives and characters of public men, men of 
affairs, administrators, business men and others, whose 
whole mind seems to be absorbed by the practical interest 
of their work. In them the capacity for the inner life seems 
to have shrivelled and atrophied under the pressure of 
external duties and activities. They may be able, com- 
petent, conscientious men, they may even be brilliant men 


of affairs, with great gifts of leadership. They may be 
striking and impressive personalities and seem to be specially 
endowed with that indefinable attribute of Personality for 
which we are searching. And yet they are lacking in that 
inwardness, that inner spiritual life which is the most favour- 
able medium for the study of Personality. Their lives are 
generally an affair of externals, of incidents and achieve- 
ments, sometimes of pomp and glory, but largely devoid of 
real deep personal interest. Their biographies are usually 
dull and uninspiring, and the record and recital of activities, 
successes and failures soon pall on the reader. The fact is 
that the real indefinable quality of true Personality is inward 
and is not reflected in the life of unrelieved externality which 
such people live. They usually carry on the affairs of the 
world with great competence; but they are too much of 
the world. What is worse, they often consciously suppress 
the life of the spirit ; the still small voice is no asset to them 
in the prosecution of their worldly affairs. And they are 
far too cautious and reserved to give their inner selves away 
and to afford the outside world glimpses into the world of 
real motives influencing and guiding them. For them any 
self-revelation would be something to be shy of, would 
be like wearing their hearts on their sleeves. The result is 
that the inner fires are securely banked, and the flame of the 
spirit can only fitfully smoulder under the ashes. Even if 
there is a strong personal life in such cases there is usually 
no record of it, it remains entirely private and personal, 
and often unknown even to the inner family circle, let alone 
the scientific student who is dependent on written records, 
constituting a continuous revelation of the spirit, for the 
reliability of his conclusions. They may be and often are 
people of outstanding personality, but the absence of the 
inner life and of records of personal development make them 
unsuitable material for the study of the problems of Person- 
ality in its more significant aspects. 

These remarks will serve to explain what sort of lives could 
be studied to best advantage in the exploration of the secret 
of Personality. We should, at any rate to begin with, select 


the biographies of people who had real inner histories, lives 
of the spirit, as well as a fair capacity of continuous develop- 
ment during their lifetime. And among these the most help- 
ful cases would be those where the written record is fairly 
full in the form of writings and diaries, and where there was 
no undue restraint in the process of self-revelation and faithful 
portrayal of the inner life and history. On the whole, the lives 
of poets, artists, writers, thinkers, religious and social innova- 
tors will be found the most suitable for purposes of holistic 
study. They are often people with inner lives and interest- 
ing personalities, with an inner history of continuous develop- 
ment ; and wherever their experiences have been more or less 
faithfully recorded, the materials for fruitful study are 
present. Sometimes the personal record is missing, and in 
such cases the study of the Personality through the works of 
the author becomes too much a matter of inference to be 
really useful, at any rate in the earlier stage of the inquiry 
into Personality. Such a case, for instance, is that of 
Shakespeare. His plays reveal behind them a wonderful 
Personality endowed with the highest genius, and moving 
forward in a continuous grand crescendo of self-development 
as an artist from beginning to end. But while the develop- 
ment is there, the Personality itself is too much hidden 
behind the dramatic mask, and therefore too much a matter 
of inference in the absence of proper personal records. In 
other cases, again, the personal record is well and fully known, 
but the written works are not sufficiently illuminating as a 
true index of the growing Personality. For a man often 
reveals himself more profoundly in his master products than 
in his diaries or correspondence or other incidental com- 
munications. Milton's great dictum holds for all time: 
" A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, 
embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond 
life." There is nothing trivial in Personality, and the 
greatest, most serious work is usually the most faithful 
index to the Personality behind. Both are, in fact, required 
the work as well as the personal record for a full under^ 
standing of any particular Personality. 


From a series of biographical studies, such as I propose, it 
will, I imagine, become clear that Personalities follow their 
own laws of inner growth and development, which will, 
while conforming to a general plan, show very considerable 
diversity in detail. It will be found that each Personality 
is a psychic biological organism, an individual personal 
whole, with its own curve of development, and its own 
series of phases of growth. A person will thus be found to 
be very different at different stages of his development, but 
all the stages and phases will be bound together by and be 
the outcome of the identical inner Personality. A com- 
parison of such studies of individual Personalities will then 
give the curve or the law of Personality, and reduce to 
rational order a phenomenon which is to-day still within 
the region of mystery. 

As the key to all the highest interests of the human race 
Personality seems to be quite the most important and fruitful 
problem to which the thinkers of the coming generation could 
direct their attention. In Personality will probably be 
found the answer to some of the hardest and oldest questions 
that have troubled the heart as well as the head of man. 
The problem of Personality seems as hard as it is important. 
Not without reason have thinkers throughout the ages shied 
off from it. But it holds precious secrets for those who will 
seriously devote themselves to the new science or discipline 
of Personology. 



Summary. The central conception of Personality is that of a 
whole ; it is the most holistic entity in the universe, hence no other 
category will do justice to it, and certainly not mechanism. Psycho- 
logy is too much of an abstract science to give an adequate view of 
Personality, though even psychology is dependent on the theory of 
a central synthetic activity for the correct construction and inter- 
pretation of mental experience, and ignores that theory at its peril. 
The suggestion of a new science or discipline of Personology has 
therefore been made which will study Personality more synthetically 
and concretely than is possible for psychology. 
/As an active living whole, Personality is fundamentally an organ 
of self-realisation; the end of a whole is more wholeness, in other 
words, more of its creative self, more self-realisation. This means 
that the will or active voluntary nature of Personality is its predomi- 
nant element, and the intelligence or rational activity is subordinate 
and instrumental it has to discover and co-ordinate means to the 
end of self-realisation. Feeling is likewise subordinate, its function 
being to give strength and impetus to the will. The Personality is 
thus a more or less balanced whole or structure of various tendencies 
and activities maintained in progressive harmony by the holistic 
unity of the Personality itself. In fact Personality resembles an 
organised society or state with its central executive and legislative 
authority wielding sway over its individual members in the interest 
of the whole. Kant has rightly called man a legislative being. Part 
of this control in Personality is conscious, most of it is, however, 
subconscious. This control is still largely imperfect and immature 
owing to the extreme youth of Personality in the history of Evolu- 
tion. But it is growing. More holistic control in the Personality 
means greater strength of mind and character, better co-ordination 
of all impulses and tendencies; less internal friction and wear and 
tear in the soul, more peace of mind, and finally that spiritual purity, 
integrity and wholeness which is the ideal of Personality. The 
Personality has the same self-healing power which we saw already 
in the case of the mutilated organism ; and in case of moral or other 
aberration it usually has the power to right and recover itself and 
often creatively to gather strength from its own weakness or errors. 



J Personality is not only a self-restorer; it is a supreme spiritual 
tnetaboliser ; it absorbs for its growth a vast variety of experience 
which it creatively transmutes and assimilates for its own spiritual 
nourishment. As metabolism and assimilation are fundamental 
functions of all organic wholes, the Personality takes in and assimi- 
lates all the social and other influences which surround it, and makes 
them all contribute towards its holistic self-realisation. Personal- 
ities vary greatly in their capacity for holistic assimilation, some easily 
suffering from spiritual indigestion, while great minds and characters 
can absorb a vast experience which only serves to fructify and 
enrich them without any detriment to their spiritual wholeness and 
integrity. Where a Personality takes in alien experience which it 
cannot assimilate into its own spiritual substance, such experience 
becomes an impurity to it; " purity " in reference to Personality 
meaning the absence of all elements alien, heterogeneous and dis- 
harmonious to the Personality. 

The holistic categories sketched in Chapter VI are specially charac- 
teristic of Personality as a whole par excellence : these are Creative- 
ness, Freedom and Wholeness or Purity. Its creativeness refers to 
the ideal Values, rational, ethical, artistic and religious, which it 
creates for its own spiritual environment and inner guidance and 
illumination. As these, however, fall outside the scope of this work, 
the category of Creativeness as applying to Personality will not be 
further considered here. But something must be said about Free- 
dom and Wholeness or Purity. 

The essence of Personality is creative freedom in respect of its own 
conditions of experience and development ; as an initiator, metaboliser 
and assimilator it has practical self-determination. Again, as a 
selector and co-ordinator of the elements in the situations that con- 
front it, it also has practical freedom. Its very nature as a whole 
confers freedom upon it. This freedom is not a negation of the 
physical order of causality but arises inside that order ; holistic free- 
dom is a continuous organic or psychic miracle which happens 
between cause and effect, so to say, as we saw in Chapter VI. Free- 
dom is thus a fact in the universe, and is not a mere capricious power 
peculiar to the will; it pertains tc^ Personality as a whole. (Freedom 
jagansholistic je^deterrmngjiaa^^nd as such it becomes one of the 
greatldeals of ^rs^nalityTwhose self-realisation is dependent on its 
inner holistic freedom. 

As regards Wholeness or Purity, it is essentially identical with 
Freedom. Purity means the elimination of disharmonious elements 
from the Personality. It means the harmonious co-ordination of the 
higher and lower elements in human nature, the sublimation of the 
lower into the higher, and thus the enrichment of the higher through 
the lower. From this it follows that moral discipline is an essential 
part in the culture of Personality. Personality is a spiritual gymnast, 


whose object is the freedom and harmony of the inner life through the 
refinement and sublimation of the cruder features in the Personality 
and their subordination and co-ordination in the growing whole of 
Personality. If this object is secured by the Personality, all the rest 
will be added unto it : peace, joy, blessedness, goodness and all the 
great prizes of life. \Wholeness as free and harmonious self-realisa- 
tion thus sums up the summum bonum of Holism. \ 

IN the preceding chapter we have viewed the Personality 
as a whole, as a form, and indeed the highest form of Holism ; 
and we have also considered some of the difficulties and 
problems which arise from this view of Personality as a 
real whole. In this chapter we shall consider Personality 
in action, in its operation as a whole, as an active shaping 
factor in the life of the human individual. Let me, 
however, first briefly resume what was said about the holistic 
character of Personality, especially in its psychological 

In Chapter VII I tried to reconcile the conflicting claims 
of Mechanism and Vitalism in the larger setting of Holism. 
In considering the behaviour of organisms and organic 
control generally, it may still be a question whether the 
Mechanistic or the Vitalistic aspect of Holism is predominant ; 
when, however, we come to the conscious human Personality 
the question loses all its force and meaning. For there can 
be no reasonable doubt that the mechanistic conception is 
not competent to explain or even describe the facts of 
human Personality. Psychology itself is unintelligible 
except on the assumption that in Mind we have a central 
synthetic power which marshals and controls, and largely 
determines all the facts and functions of mental life, such as 
sensations, perceptions, conceptions, conations and emotions. 
Our developed consciousness directly reveals an identical 
and persistent Self which refers all its experiences to itself ; 
and, as we have seen, but for such a personal centre and 
unity of reference, mental life and experience would be 
impossible and unintelligible. This personal Self underlies, 
upholds, directs and controls all our experience as in- 
dividuals. In this Self we behold, not only what is deepest 


and most central in ourselves as human beings, but also that 
power of Holism which operates blindly as life and organic 
control in organisms ; nay, more, in it we behold the cul- 
mination of that fundamental holistic motive power of the 
universe, the beginnings of which lie far back, impersonal 
and embedded in the inorganic order of Nature, but which 
gradually disentangles and frees itself, until in the Self of 
the human Personality it attains its highest measure of 
freedom. The synthetic organising power of Holism, 
starting from the darkest and feeblest beginnings and blindly 
battling with all sorts of refractory situations in the course 
of cosmic Evolution, gradually evolves and wins through, 
until at last it emerges in the Self with luminous and radiant 
self-consciousness. Through the Self, which possesses the 
power of conscious reflection and retrospection, Holism can 
look back to its own early beginnings and review its own 
progress throughout the course of organic and inorganic 
Evolution. As Nature finally learns to read herself with the 
human eyes which are her own, so through the human Self 
which is the highest and best it has yet come to, Holism may 
gaze back to its beginnings and scrutinise what would other- 
wise be dark and unintelligible for ever. And thus it is that 
the worm of Personality comes to turn to the light of the 
Whole, and presumes to view and discuss the Whole, of which 
it forms itself but a part. 

As was pointed out in the last chapter, the procedure of 
psychology is largely and necessarily analytical and cannot 
therefore do justice to Personality in its unique wholeness. 
For this a new discipline is required, which we have called 
Personology, and whose task it would be to study Personality 
as a whole and to trace the laws and phases of its develop- 
ment in the individual life. Such a study would be of the 
greatest interest from every point of view, as it would envisage 
Personality in its unique wholeness and unity, rather than, 
in the way of psychology, as a series of separate abstracted 
activities. Personology would study the Personality not 
as an abstraction or bundle of psychological abstractions, 
but rather as a vital organism, as the organic psychic whole 


which par excellence it is ; and such a study should lead to 
the formulation of the laws of the growth of this unique 
whole, which would not only be of profound theoretical 
importance, but also of the greatest practical value. One 
cannot read the lives of the great Personalities without 
feeling that a vast field for first-class scientific and philo- 
sophic research remains still unexplored, and that discoveries 
of the highest importance await the student of Personology. 
Here I shall confine myself to a few indications of the 
general activity of Personality as a whole. 

As a whole, as the individualising power and activity of 
Holism, the Personality is fundamentally an organ of self- 
realisation. As in the case of the growing or mutilated 
organism the whole manifests itself by bearing through all 
obstructions and overcoming all obstacles in its efforts to 
realise and complete itself or its type in each individual case, 
so too the Personality has, as its central end, the straightening 
out of all difficulties and the elimination of all elements which 
militate against the attainment of its own immanent ideal. 
In essence the task is the same in both cases. But there is 
this material difference in objective, that whereas in the case 
of organism the end towards which the whole is moving is 
the completion of the material structure and its functions, 
in the case of Personality, on the other hand, the end and 
object of the inner whole is the realisation of an invisible 
spiritual structure or character. The organism is still 
mainly material, while the Personality is essentially an 
inward ideal; but in both cases the shaping power of the 
inner whole strives to realise its end, to eliminate what is 
alien and adventitious, to conserve and develop what is 
pure and relevant to its ideal, and so to reach perfection, of 
visible outward structure and function in the one case, of 
inward spiritual grace and unity in the other. 

From this it will be seen that apart from our bodies the 
basis of that complex whole which we call the Personality 
is our voluntary activity or the will; it is the active, 
self-maintaining, self-realising power of the Personality 
in us which underlies and directs and to a large extent 


conditions all other activities. The Intelligence has been 
evolved largely though not entirely as an instrument of 
the will; in its endeavour to realise its conscious or 
unconscious ends the Personality qua will has developed 
the intellectual or thinking power as a subsidiary activity 
which prescribes the means by which that realisation has 
to be effected. The power of Holism in us moves at 
first unconsciously and blindly, as in other organisms, and 
later on consciously and purposively to certain ends which 
increase in complexity and difficulty as the capacity for 
abstract thinking and rational co-ordination progresses. 
This fundamental movement is the will, whose activity is 
dependent not only on the primary forms of feeling, which 
make the movement slow or rapid according to the strength 
and volume of the feelings, but also on the growth of intelli- 
gence which adjusts means to ends. The active movement 
to satisfy the appetite or craving of hunger, for instance, 
depends largely on the strength of the promptings of hunger ; 
and the intelligence of the hungry animal is developed and 
sharpened in order to devise ways and means by which the 
pangs of that craving may be alleviated and removed. And 
similarly the complex impulse which makes a great thinker, 
artist or statesman endeavour through long years to execute 
some great and far-reaching plan, while fundamentally a 
movement of his active voluntary nature, depends for its 
strength on his emotions, and for the correctness of execution 
on the power of thought and judgment and insight which 
have been matured in the personal life. The conception of 
Personality, as an active movement of the whole in each 
individual, seems, therefore, necessarily to lead to the 
primacy of the will or active nature of the mind, and to 
the instrumental character of the intellectual or thinking 
power. Personality is thus a balanced whole or structure 
of various tendencies and capacities which are maintained 
in mutual and reciprocal harmony by the holistic nature 
of the Personality itself. As the whole is the essence 
of Personality, so wholeness in self-realisation and self- 
expression is its essential aim and object. 


The great practical problem before the Personality is 
thus to effectuate and preserve its wholeness through the 
harmonising of its several activities, and the prevention 
among them of any random discord or sedition, whereby one 
or other might be enabled to assume ascendancy over the rest 
and so prepare the way for the disintegration and destruction 
of the whole. In the Personality there is superadded to the 
unconscious organic control a whole complex machinery of 
conscious purposive action which is intended more effectively 
to maintain and increase this highly organised harmony in 
the developing individual. The machinery of conscious pur- 
posive control becomes highly elaborate and almost artificial. 

In fact the nature of the Personality is distinguished by 
its departure from the processes of organic nature and an 
approximation to the forms of action which are characteristic 
of society. Just as in a well-organised society or state there 
is a central legislative and executive authority which is for 
certain purposes supreme over all individuals composing 
that society or state, and controls their activities in certain 
definite directions deemed necessary for the welfare of the 
state, so the human Personality is distinguished by an even 
more rigorous inner control and direction of the personal 
actions to certain defined or definable ends. This is the 
reason why Kant has called man a legislative being. He is 
an inward kingdom or sovereignty, whose powers and 
actions are directed, not by some external agency, but by 
an inner agency which is none other than the activity of the 
personal whole itself. Much of this control and direction is 
conscious will, but far more is unconscious and operates in 
the subconscious field of the personal life, and it is only on 
great occasions or crises that light comes suddenly to be 
thrown on this inner leading in the personal life, and the 
individual becomes conscious that he has been guided or led 
along paths which were apparently not of his choosing, but 
which nevertheless were the outcome of the mysterious inner 
self-direction which distinguishes the Personality. The 
ideal personality is he in whom this inner control is sufficiently 
powerful, whether exercised by conscious will or some 


unconscious activity, to harmonise all the discordant elements 
and tendencies of the personal character into one harmonious 
whole, and to restrain all wayward, random activities which 
are in conflict with that harmony. This ideal is far from 
being realised universally in practice. Personality is still a 
growing factor in the universe, and is merely in its infancy. 
Its history is marked by the thousands of years, whereas that 
of organic nature is marked by millions. Personality is as 
yet but an inchoate activity of the whole, but nevertheless its 
character is already distinct and well-marked ; and its future 
evolution is the largest ray of hope in human, if not terrestrial, 
destiny. Its incomplete imperfect character is largely re- 
sponsible for the interminable disputes and differences among 
philosophers and theologians about the human soul and 
human destiny. For so long as the true nature of Personality, 
which in one form or another, and whether consciously or 
unconsciously, forms the ultimate subject matter of all their 
dogmas and speculations, is still indefinite and undetermined, 
it is not to be expected that they will be agreed as to the funda- 
mental postulates, or the proper methods to be followed, or 
the correct inferences to be drawn from the apparent facts. 
The scientist has the advantage that in matter and organism 
he deals with older well-marked manifestations of reality 
about whose definition and principal characteristics there can 
be little dispute. But philosophers, whose subject matter is 
still in process of growth and inward definition, find them- 
selves unable to agree about fundamentals largely because 
Nature herself is not yet certain about these fundamentals. 
However, even admittedly inchoate and infantile as Person- 
ality is, it is already sufficiently developed and distinct to 
enable us to consider its fundamental characteristics and their 
bearings on the interpretation not only of human conduct 
but of our conception of the universe in general. And its 
fundamental character is just this wholeness which justifies 
us in saying that Personality is a special activity or form of 
the Whole. For consider for a moment what distinguishes 
the formed and developed personality from the unformed 
and incomplete personality ; the strong character from the 


weak ; the master of his fate from him who is blown about 
by every wave of impulse or opinion. In the latter case 
the case of the weak, or flabby, or irresolute person you 
have usually the same elements of character as in that of the 
strong man. But the difference is that while in the case of 
the strong man or personality all these elements are unified 
into one central whole which shapes and directs their 
separate activities, in the case of the weak man these ele- 
ments of thought, emotion, will and passion have never been 
harmonised or fused into one whole ; the sovereign legislative 
and executive authority in the personality has never been 
properly constituted or exerted, or is so weak as to be 
regularly disobeyed and defied ; the unorganised and unco- 
ordinated factions in the character fight for their own hand 
and keep up a constant state of inner warfare in the person- 
ality, with the result that the stronger passions or impulses 
carry the day and ruin the character, which depends on a 
harmonious subordination of all the various elements of 
character under one supreme ethical authority. The inner 
discord may even proceed the length of apparent dissocia- 
tion of the personality and lead to the singular phenomenon 
of multiple personality in the same individual. 

In proportion as a personality really becomes such, it 
acquires more of the character of wholeness ; body and mind, 
intellect and heart, will and emotions, while not separately 
repressed but on the contrary fostered and developed, are 
yet all collectively harmonised and blended into one 
integral whole; the character becomes more massive, the 
entire man becomes more of a piece ; and the will or con- 
scious rational direction, which is not a separate agency 
hostile to these individual factors, but the very root and 
expression of their joint and harmonious action, becomes 
more silently and smoothly powerful; the wear and tear 
of internal struggle disappears ; the friction and waste which 
accompany the warfare in the soul are replaced by peace and 
unity and strength ; till at last the Personality stands forth 
in its ideal purity, integrity and wholeness. And through all 
this transformation from the disorganised atomic state to the 


full realisation of unity in the personal character, the Person- 
ality as the activity of Holism in the human individual is itself 
the creative shaping agency which directs the movement ; 
it is the Personality which not only develops all the separate 
faculties of mind and soul, but which concentrates and finally 
unifies their activities; the various mental elements it 
organises and fuses into one luminous personal whole, which 
in time exercises a restraining and overshadowing power 
over all tendencies and impulses harmful to the whole, and 
directs the entire current of being, thinking and feeling to 
the realisation of the highest ethical and spiritual ends. 

We have seen in earlier chapters how in case of mutilation 
of an organism some central control often avails to restore or 
repair the mutilated organ. In the same way the Personality, 
as an activity of Holism in the individual, repairs any breach 
in the personal character and restores the balance disturbed 
by any impairment of character. The Personality appears 
as the self-healer, which through all obstacles and impedi- 
ments endeavours to preserve and realise its own type or 
ideal, and often even from defeat and disaster itself to wrest 
the accomplishment of the ethical ideal at which it is con- 
sciously or unconsciously aiming. Not seldom, of course, 
the Personality finds it impossible to overcome the defeats 
it has sustained and goes under ; for it is as yet weak and 
inchoate as a function of Holism, and in some cases it is 
weaker than in others. But the level of its power and 
activity is gradually rising; more and more it is gathering 
the unorganised centrifugal tendencies of the individual 
into an effective central control, and often it wins even in the 
most discouraging circumstances those moral victories 
which form the great landmarks of personal and human 
progress. From the depths of moral and spiritual aberration 
it guides the weak steps of the wanderer to conscious man- 
hood and moral self-control. As the organism heals itself 
after a mutilation, so the Personality through identically 
the same functioning of Holism saves and purifies the 
personal character often even by means of the sins and 
excesses of which it has been guilty. Thus the Personality 


realises itself by producing unity and wholeness in the 
personal character; and when through its own weakness 
the character is degraded and a course of conduct embarked 
on which constitutes a denial of that fundamental tendency 
and aspiration towards wholeness, the force of the Personality 
in the individual is often strong enough to rescue the 
individual and sometimes even through a more or less violent 
crisis to convert him to sanity, self-respect and moral whole- 
ness. The moral and spiritual bearings of this fact lie 
beyond the scope of this work. 

The aberrations of the individual from the ethical standard 
are due not only to the inner weakness of the personal 
character but also to the influence of the environment. 
From the consideration of the internal we therefore pass on 
to discuss the external relations of Personality. And here 
the first point to note is that in so far as the individual is at 
the mercy of external circumstances and forces, the situation 
is largely of a mechanical character. We have seen in 
earlier chapters how such a mechanical situation is con- 
verted into an organic one. The organism does not merely 
passively receive the force, pressure or influence of the 
environment ; it appears not as a mere passive sufferer, but 
as an active agent in the drama of existence. And it is 
considered an organism only to the extent to which it 
exercises this active function of assimilation or metabolism 
of the material which it receives from the environment. So 
far from being a mere channel or conduit pipe for transmit- 
ting the inorganic forces and energies of Nature, it disin- 
tegrates all the materials supplied to it, and transmutes them 
into forms which are serviceable for its own organic purposes, 
and then builds these materials so transmuted into the stately 
type which it is its immanent end to realise. The power 
of assimilation is essential to the organism; without this 
power it would simply be flooded with its surroundings, and 
instead of conquering the environment and victoriously 
adjusting itself to its surroundings, it would be overcome and 
disappear as an organism. Metabolism and assimilation 
are indeed the fundamental activities of organic wholes. 


Now all this is, mutatis mutandis, even truer in relation to 
the Personality. Any element of a foreign, alien or hostile 
character introduced into the Personality creates internal 
friction, clogs its working and may even end in completely 
disorganising and disintegrating it. The Personality, like 
the organism, is dependent for its continuance on a supply 
of material, intellectual, social and such-like, from the 
environment. But this foreign material, unless properly 
metabolised and assimilated by the Personality, may injure 
it and even prove fatal to it. Just as organic assimilation 
is essential to animal growth, so intellectual, moral and social 
assimilation on the part of the Personality becomes the central 
fact in its development and self-realisation. The capacity 
for this assimilation varies greatly in individual cases. A 
Goethe could absorb and assimilate all science and art and 
literature and in addition take part in much of the practical 
administration of his little state and other work of all kinds 
without finding himself oppressed by a load which must have 
killed a lesser man ; he could, as he has described in the 
character of Faust, gather up into himself not only all the 
knowledge of his day, but all the richness and variety of 
experience which makes his life one of the most interesting 
records in the history of the world ; he could drink of the 
deepest fountains of passion and arise to the loftiest heights of 
ideal aspiration he could do all this and not only preserve 
his spiritual manhood unimpaired, but actually deepen and 
broaden and enrich it in every direction. He could 
assimilate this vast mass of experience, could make it all his 
own, and make it all contribute to that splendour and 
magnificence of self-realisation which has made him one of 
the greatest among men. A lesser Personality would have 
gone under ; could either not have acquired so much know- 
ledge and experience, or could not have assimilated it, and 
in the end would have become depersonalised, a mere 
mechanical acquirer and hoarder at the cost of essential 
unity and integrity. As soon as a person acquires either 
knowledge or experience or falls under social or other in- 
fluences in a mechanical manner without assimilating them, 


he injures his Personality; he overburdens and disorganises 
himself; he surrenders to the environment that in him 
which is and should ever remain a pure unconstrained self- 
activity. There are many forms which this enslavement of 
the Personality takes. Looking upon the Personality as 
merely a natural activity and not yet in an ethical or religious 
light, we find that it is sometimes overloaded and gorged 
with knowledge which it cannot assimilate and digest, and 
the person degenerates into a mere gatherer of knowledge, 
a sort of intellectual hoarder. In other cases, again, it 
accepts the social influences and conventions without 
mastering and assimilating them and develops into a purely 
conventional character in which the spontaneity of the inner 
life is deadened under a mass of social conventions. In other 
cases it acquires power which it is beyond its capacity to use 
wisely and well, and it develops a proud, cruel, overbearing 
or tyrannical character, and that too under circumstances 
which would have built up a strong and noble Personality 
in a case where the assimilative, controlling, co-ordinating 
power was greater. Too often, alas ! it simply surrenders 
itself weakly and self-indulgently to outside influences or 
temptations, and becomes weak, vicious and contemptible. 
In all these cases the Personality succumbs to the environ- 
ment, to external influences which bear on it, but which it 
cannot resist or master and make its own ; in fact, to the 
introduction of foreign or hostile material into its pure inner 
self-activity. The ideal Personality is a whole; it is a 
whole in the sense that it should not have in it anything 
which is not of a piece with itself, which is alien or external 
to itself. Any such extraneous or adventitious element in it 
which does not really harmonise with it prevents it to that 
extent from being a whole. Now as the Personality is a 
self-realising holistic activity in us, it follows that its 
immanent end and ideal is to realise and develop itself as a 
whole, to establish and secure its wholeness, and to render 
itself proof against invasion and injury from all extraneous 
and hostile influences. It cannot do this by cutting itself off 
from the environment on which it is dependent for the 


material which it requires for its sustenance and self-realisa- 
tion. It can only do this by, on the one hand, developing 
and strengthening its power of assimilating and making an 
integral part of itself all the materials which are necessary 
for its requirements, and, on the other, rejecting all un- 
assimilated extraneous materials which come to it without 
being incorporated into it as a whole. In other words, it 
aims at efficiency and purity the assimilation or making its 
own of whatever is required for its self -development, and the 
rejection of all influences or materials which are extraneous to 
its wholeness, which would be alien and impure to that 

The term " purity " is here used in the same sense in 
which the German " Reinheit " is often used, to indicate 
the absence of matters or influences which are alien or non- 
homogeneous or extraneous to the thing in question. A 
thing is called pure when it is free from such alien or ex- 
traneous or adventitious elements as are considered destruc- 
tive of its integrity and simple transparency or homogeneity. 
This seems to be the fundamental meaning of the term 
" purity/' Its moral meaning as freedom from vice, or 
hygienic application as cleanliness or freedom from dirt, are 
essentially derivative. If an object is itself and nothing 
but itself, without the adherence of any adventitious matter 
foreign to it, it will be pure or clean in the fundamental 
sense. If a person keeps out of his nature any warring or 
jarring elements or complications, keeps himself free of all 
moral or spiritual entanglements, and is nothing but himself 
whole, simple, integral and sincere he will also be pure 
in the vital holistic sense. The food which enters the 
organism as alien material is destroyed as such in the process 
of metabolism and is assimilated as blood and other sub- 
stances and goes to feed the organic system and to form an 
essential part of it. And similarly the Personality through 
perception, intuition, conception, emotion, etc., assimilates 
the influences of its environment and works them up into its 
own substance its inner world of thought and will and 
emotion. And the more thoroughly this mental or personal 


assimilation is carried out, the richer and more distinctive 
the Personality is. The wider the range of its acquisitions, 
the more powerful and thorough the intellectual and 
emotional assimilation, the more complex and the grander is 
the Personality. 

Here then we reach the central idea and function of the 
Personality. Like organism, only in a far more complex 
and developed form, it is a whole, with an interior conscious 
self-direction of all its component functions ; with a power 
of acquisition from its environment which is not mechanical, 
but really transforms all the acquired material into trans- 
parent unity with its own nature. It is a whole which in its 
unique synthetic processes continuously performs that 
greatest of all miracles, the creative transmutation of the 
lower into the higher in the holistic series. 

And, in order to maintain the right perspective, let us not 
forget that Personality is but a specialised form of Holism, 
this Personality in all its uniqueness is still but a function of 
Nature in the wider sense; that in it we see matter itself 
become somehow aglow and luminous with its own unsus- 
pected immanent fire; that as Personality transforms the 
material into the spiritual, so regressively a deeper view 
discloses Personality as itself but a more interior function 
of that Holism which has been slowly evolving since the 
beginning of the universe. 

In fact Personality in its fundamental activities illustrates 
all those functions which in Chapter VI we have ascribed to 
wholes. As a whole it is creative, it is free, and it is unified 
in the highest sense. In that chapter the groundwork of the 
holistic categories was laid down, and those categories 
themselves were derived from the concept and nature of 
wholes. Personality is the highest type of whole which we 
have knowledge of, and we should therefore expect to find 
that the holistic categories of Creativeness, Freedom and 
Wholeness will apply in a pre-eminent degree to the functions 
and activities of Personality. I shall conclude this chapter 
with a brief statement of Freedom and Wholeness or Purity, 
as illustrated by Personality. The category of Creativeness 


in its full application to Personality is best illustrated by the 
appearance of the great artistic, ethical and spiritual Values 
or Ideals, which are the creations of Holism on the personal 
plane. These Values and the higher order of the human 
spirit which they constitute fall beyond the scope of the 
present work, which is concerned more with the laying of the 
foundations of the holistic concept than with the erection of 
the superstructure. The creative Ideals of Holism in their 
human aspects, although they give better illustrations of 
Holism than anything we have discussed in this work, will 
not be dealt with at this preliminary stage. I therefore 
proceed to discuss Freedom and Purity in their application 
to Personality. 

The creative power by which both organism and Person- 
ality metabolise and assimilate extraneous materials raises 
the issue of Freedom in an obvious and natural way, and we 
may briefly resume here what has been said before as to the 
rival claims of Freedom and Mechanical Necessity in their 
application to organic and personal wholes. In Chapter 
VII I have explained in what sense and to what extent the 
categories of Mechanism and Necessity apply to such wholes. 
That to a certain extent they are mechanisms falling within 
the physical laws of Necessity is clear ; but only to a certain 
extent. Beyond that Holism appears as a real active factor 
in each such whole, controlling and directing its physico- 
chemical energies towards definite ends. 

The free activity of Holism in the organism and in the 
personality, considered merely as an organism, does not 
affect the mechanical chain of natural causation. In aft 
organism the same combination of physical causes produces 
the same total of physical effects as in any other system. 
As we saw in Chapter VII, the law of the conservation of 
energy holds exactly in the same way as in any other natural 
system. Holism does not break the causal chain ; it does 
not override the laws of physical causation. The laws of 
physics and chemistry are the same, whether they are studied 
in the growth of a crystal or in the development of a plant or 
animal. To that extent and in that sense Necessity reigns 


in the plant or animal no less than in the crystal. But that 
does not exhaust the matter. On the basis of these natural 
conditions and factors Holism proceeds to bring about 
results which are impossible in the case of mere mechanisms. 
Holism does not annihilate its form of space when it proceeds 
on its road of inward development, but within the limits and 
limitations of the spatial external form it proceeds to the 
creation of a new inner world. In the same way Holism 
accepts its own well-known natural conditions and principles 
of action when it comes to develop inward organic or personal 
wholes, but it evokes meanings and values and results from 
those conditions which would have been impossible on the 
plane of the merely spatial or mechanical. Holism, while in 
no sense overriding natural factors which are but an earlier 
phase of its own activities, develops inside and through 
those factors the individual wholes of organism and 
Personality. Similar causes produce similar effects under 
similar conditions : that is a statement of natural law. But 
the miracle of Holism is performed in that infinitely small 
or timeless, spaceless interval which elapses between cause 
and effect. Hence whereas on the physico-chemical plane 
cause A is followed by effect B, in the case of an organism 
the operation of Holism is seen in that cause A is followed 
not only by effect B, but also by a new non-mechanical 
element X of a holistic character in the shape of what is 
ordinarily called life or sensation, organic or mental activity. 
Organism as a whole is not merely a link in the chain of 
natural causation, but is itself an absorber, assimilator and 
transformer of causes on the way to their effects. And this 
active free power of absorption, assimilation and transforma- 
tion is evidenced not only in the creative appearance of the 
new vital or mental element X, but also in the natural sense 
of freedom which accompanies this activity in personal 
consciousness. A causal stimulus applied externally to an 
organism does not merely result in some mechanical move- 
ment, but between the stimulus and the resulting movement 
a whole new world intervenes, which transforms the stimulus 
into the state of the organism, and makes the resulting 


movement, not the mere mechanical effect of that cause, 
but the free action of the organism. The organism absorbs 
the cause as mere material, and emits the movement as 
the resulting action of itself as the real cause. This trans- 
formation is not only seen to happen in the case of the lower 
organisms, but is revealed and interpreted in human con- 
sciousness as what actually does take place. Consciousness 
interpolates the self between all causal stimulus and all 
resulting response, and reveals the self as the free creator or 
prompter of the response after it has absorbed the stimulus. 
Accordingly, as we saw in Chapter VI, freedom arises 
creatively inside the process of natural causation. 

The spontaneous self-activity of the organism in the 
assimilation of material necessary for its nutrition and 
development shows that it is free as an organic whole ; while 
the assimilation and transformation of that material and the 
reference of any resulting movements or responses to the 
organism as their originating and determining cause show 
that freedom or self-determination from another point of 
view. There is no such spontaneity nor such power of 
creative assimilation in any mere mechanical aggregate ; in 
so far as an organism is a whole, it is also a free self -determin- 
ing agent in the activity which dissolves and assimilates 
extraneous influences or materials and substitutes freedom 
for causal necessity. 

We thus see that Freedom has its roots deep down in the 
foundations and constitution of the universe. It is a pro- 
found mistake to look for Freedom only in the human will. 
The correct and fruitful view discloses Freedom, not as an 
exceptional development in the universe, as an attribute 
merely of the human will, but as itself in one degree or 
another the grand rule of the universe, as the free self- 
determined activity of Holism in its universal process of 
self-realisation in Evolution, and as the fundamental prin- 
ciple of each individual whole set free in the course of 
this Evolution. As Holism in its individuating activity 
evolves and sets free smaller wholes, these wholes are them- 
selves in ever-increasing measure set free from external 


determination and acquire an ever greater measure of self- 
determination and freedom in their activities and develop- 
ment. Holism not only means the development of the 
universe on holistic lines, the realisation of ever more 
perfect wholes, and the assimilation, transformation and 
absorption of non-holistic material or relations. It means 
also the ever-widening reign of Freedom, the realisation 
of the Ideal of Freedom in the gradual breaking down 
of all external fetters, and the gradually increasing 
inward self-determination of the universe through the pro- 
gressive evolution of ever higher holistic entities in the 
universe. This free holistic activity is not only the source 
of the idea of causation in human consciousness; it is 
ultimately the only source of efficient action or causation in 
the universe. The free activity of Holism or a whole is the 
type and source of all efficient causation. The concept of 
necessity, which arises in connection with that of causation, 
is not grounded in the reality of things, but is (as Kant 
showed) a mere mental expedient for joining up or recon- 
necting parts of the whole which have become dissociated or 
severed in the course of thought or experience. The synthetic 
activity of mind, in producing the category of necessity, is 
simply intended to recover or reconstitute intellectually 
that whole which has been shattered into fragments in 
experience and thought; and as mind is itself but part 
of the larger whole of Personality, this intention can only 
be carried out imperfectly. In the whole Freedom and 
Causation, or rather efficient action, are not utterly 
different; their antagonism arises only in the application 
of consciousness to the atomic aspects of our empirical 
experiences. Determinism is in the last resort based on 
free holistic self-determination. We may sum up by 
saying that Holism is free, and in so far as Holism has 
realised itself in the universe, in so far as the universe is 
of a holistic character and consists of holistic entities, to 
that extent the universe and these entities are themselves free. 
But Personality is the highest type of such holistic entities. 
We may therefore say that Personality as a whole is free ; 


the more completely it realises the character of a whole, the 
more perfect also will be its freedom as such. The freedom 
of the Personality is simply its character of pure self-activity, 
untrammelled by external influences, its character of 
spontaneous or conscious self-determination by virtue of 
which all its actions flow from the pure source of self and are 
not pressed or forced on it by unassimilated external con- 
ditions or causes alien to itself, and which have not been 
transformed into unity with itself. Sincere self-expression 
in men and in nations thus becomes the true ideal of 
human development and culture. 

Freedom is thus not a mere abstract formal concept, but 
a real activity ; it is the limits within which Holism moulds 
and develops the individual Personality. In proportion as 
the Personality is holistic, it is rich in the characters of self- 
direction and self-determination ; in other words, it is free. 
Moral Freedom is thus a form of the holistic activity of 

It will be seen that we predicate Freedom, not of the Will, 
but of the Personality itself. However important and 
indeed fundamental an aspect of Personality the will is, yet 
it is merely an aspect and not the whole of Personality. 
Freedom is wider than the will ; the spontaneity of conscious- 
ness itself, and of the mind in its various constructive or 
creative activities, shows that Freedom is not limited to the 
will, but characterises also other forms of personal activity. 
In fact Freedom is not an attribute of mere parts or aspects 
but of the whole, and therefore of Personality considered as a 

Most important of all, we have to point out that Freedom, 
like Personality itself, admits of degrees in its personal 
manifestations. We saw earlier in this chapter that 
Personality, at the present stage of its history, is not yet fully 
developed ; that it is imperfect as a whole even in the highest 
individuals, and that it varies in degree and intensity in all 
individuals. The power of perfect self-direction, assimila- 
tion and self-orientation which would distinguish a perfect 
personal whole is only imperfectly realised in individual 



cases; and in the same way there is a corresponding 
failure to realise the perfect ideal of Freedom. 

Now in proportion as the Personality fails to achieve the 
character of a perfect whole, in the same proportion it is 
merely mechanical in its action, and therefore in the same 
proportion it becomes externally determined or un-free in 
its actions. The result is that the Personality is partly (so 
far as it is a whole) free, and partly bound or externally 
determined that is to say, in so far as it is or behaves like a 
mechanism. Thus the fuller and more complete a Person- 
ality is the greater its power of central self-control, or the 
fuller its freedom. Weak characters have much less 
freedom than strong characters. 

Temptation to the strong Personality finds itself enmeshed 
in and defeated by the transforming power of a great system 
of central control which will actually turn it into a stimulus to 
the higher life ; while the same temptation operating on a weak 
Personality finds little to withstand its force, and the resultant 
moral lapse is almost a mechanical equivalent of the tempta- 
tion. Freedom is characteristic of the Whole just as Necessity 
is characteristic of Mechanism ; and this is as true in regard 
to the moral action of the human agent as in abstract 

In what sense is the human agent free ? In the everlasting 
controversy as to the freedom of the will, it has never been 
really denied that the will determines actions; that I can 
will to do this or that and do it accordingly. But Necessi- 
tarians and Determinists have contended that this will is 
itself not free, but determined by motives and conditions 
like all other natural events ; that it is itself a mere link in 
the causal mechanical chain ; and that the consciousness of 
freedom is really an illusion. Supporters of the Free Will 
theory have, on the other hand, contended that volitions are 
free, that the will in deciding on any course of conduct may 
act irrespective of motives or external conditions operating 
in it ; and that this indeterminism is borne out by our con- 
sciousness of freedom of choice between various alternatives. 
Against this view there is not only the scientific evidence, but 


also the feeling that Freedom in this sense of unmotivated 
decision would be an exceptional capricious element in 
the orderly procedure of the universe. Capricious individual 
behaviour seems unworthy of such a world, and would 
certainly not accord with Holism such as we see it in the 
course of cosmic Evolution. In trying to arrive at the correct 
view, we must on the one hand discard mere physical deter- 
minism as being purely mechanical and in conflict with Holism 
in its organic and personal forms ; and on the other we must 
recognise the universal orderly character of Holism, which 
does not admit of particular or individual caprice. And in 
this way we arrive at the idea of holistic, as distinguished 
from physical or mechanical, determinism. The Whole, 
and Personality in so far as it is a whole expressive of the 
individuating activity of Holism, are not and cannot be 
mechanically determined ; they are self-determined in their 
characters as wholes. In other words, theirs is holistic as 
distinguished from mechanical determination. Freedom, 
not in the sense of individual caprice of choice, but in the 
sense of self-determination of a whole, or holistic determin- 
ism, is an inherent character of Personality, and flows from 
the very nature of Holism. In so far, however, as any 
human being is deficient in Personality his actions also tend 
to be a mechanical reflex of impulses and external con- 
ditions, and to that extent to lose the character of true 

It is clear from the foregoing that Freedom is not 
merely a concept but becomes an ethical and personal 
ideal. Freedom is the full measure of self-realisation 
which each human being by its nature aspires to. It 
is not yet a firm possession of Personality. No doubt 
all Personality has it in some degree, just as every organism 
has it in a lower, more primitive form. But the free- 
dom of a Personality is the measure of its development 
and self-realisation. It is the active power which secures 
the imperial legislative authority of the Personality, not 
only over its own rebellious impulses and tendencies, but 
even over the fleeting evanescent forms of thought and 


experience. In the ideal Personality Libertas and Imperium 
are identical. It is, in fact, the supreme prize to be con- 
tended for in the striving of each human being; and the 
extent of its inward realisation denotes the measure of 
the victory attained. To be a free Personality represents the 
highest achievement of which any human being is capable. 
The Whole is free ; and to realise wholeness or freedom (they 
are correlative expressions) in the smaller whole of individual 
life represents not only the highest of which the individual 
is capable, but expresses also what is at once the deepest 
and the highest in the universal movement of Holism. 

So much in regard to Freedom as the form and measure of 
personal development. 

The problem of Purity is at bottom identical with that of 
Freedom; they are both but aspects of Wholeness. But 
while Freedom concerns the power of the Personality and 
means strength as against weakness, Purity means the 
harmony of the Personality through the elimination of alien 
elements and the co-ordination of all the personal tendencies 
in one harmonious whole of the spirit. A pure, free, homo- 
geneous spirit is the ideal of Personality. 

So long as disharmonies exist in the Personality and 
conflicts arise between different tendencies in it, so long the 
Personality will fall below its ideal of a pure homogeneous 
Whole. That ideal will only be attained when in the 
progress of personal development harmony and internal 
peace have been secured. It must not be supposed that the 
only manner in which this peace is possible is by the 
elimination or absorption of all the lower or earlier phases 
of personal evolution and the survival of the later higher 
phases. The Ideal Man will not be devoid of those passions 
and emotions which ordinarily war against the higher 
tendencies and aspirations of the Personality. But in the 
Ideal Man they will not cause conflict by contending for a 
dominating position in the Personality; they will be 
relegated to the subordinate position to which their more 
primitive crude character entitles them. In the Ideal 
Man the discords of ethical life will be composed, because 


there will be a harmonious correlation of higher and lower ; 
the harmony will be the richer in proportion to the variety 
of elements which have been conserved and will thus com- 
bine to produce it. It takes all sorts to make the little world 
of Personality. The unity of character which the holistic 
movement aims at does not involve the destruction of the 
lower by the higher ethical factors, but the clear undisputed 
hegemony of the latter over the former, and the reduction of 
the former to a subordinate or servile position in the whole. 
It is this combination, in a harmonious form, of all grades 
of ethical evolution in the ideal Personality which will make 
it truly human, while at the same time it will be expressive 
of the universal order. To secure that harmony ought to be 
the supreme aim of the ethical individual. 

From these remarks it will be clear how important a part 
moral discipline plays in the furtherance of the evolutionary 
holistic scheme. The life of the moral individual does not 
drift smoothly on like that of the happy gods, but is a 
constant gymnastic effort to strengthen the higher and to 
secure its dominance over the lower tendencies. The 
spiritual sublimation of the lower into the higher becomes the 
constant unremitting effort. The mechanical operation of 
Natural Selection is supplemented on the ethical plane by 
the conscious co-operation of those powers and agencies 
which have been evolved in the higher evolutionary pro- 
cesses. The contest is no longer left to be carried on by the 
blind activity of natural forces and animal instincts; but 
reason and conscience take a deliberate hand in the great 
issue of Holism. The progress of Holism involves that 
mere Naturalism shall be superseded or at least subli- 
mated at the higher stages of evolutionary progress into 
the deeper holistic factors which have appeared on the 
scene in Personality. And the object of this conscious 
moral discipline should not be the ascetic suppression of 
primitive healthy human instincts, but their refinement 
and sublimation, their subordination and co-ordination in 
the growing whole of the Personality under the hegemony 
of the later and higher ethical factors. 


% While moral discipline thus plays an important part in 
personal evolution, it must not, however, be supposed that 
Personality should go on for ever oppressed by an overpower- 
ing sense of Duty, and should hear for ever the thundering 
reverberations of the Categorical Imperative. No doubt 
when the person at his moral awakening or some other 
moral crisis in his life first hears the trumpet-call of Duty, 
the effect is tremendous. But the thunder should die away 
into the still small voice of the inner life; the apparently 
alien forbidding aspect of Duty should be assimilated into 
the quiet normal impulses of the Personality; moral 
discipline should so thoroughly become second nature to the 
ethical warrior that its effects will be there without its 
operation being felt. The Personality should reach such a 
standard of purity and homogeneity that there will be no 
alien stuff in it to offer resistance to the promptings of 
Conscience or Duty or to cause friction or disquietude in the 
soul. The highly developed and disciplined Personality, 
pure and homogeneous in itself, and in harmony with 
universal Holism, and thus finely responsive to all things 
true and good and fair in the universe, will not only embody 
the ancient Greek ideal of oaxfrpoovvrj, or moderation and 
self-control, but will also come to realise both the Stoic and 
the Epicurean ideal of drapa/oc, or tranquillity of soul, and 
finally to know that peace of God, passing all understanding, 
which is the supreme promise of the Buddhist no less than 
of the Christian religion. 

The ethical message of Holism to man is summed up in 
two words : Freedom and Purity. And from what we have 
just seen it is clear that these two grand ethical ideals are 
at bottom identical. The function of the ideal of Freedom 
is to secure the inward self-determination of the Personality, 
its riddance of all alien obstructive elements, and thus its 
perfection as a pure, radiant, transparent, homogeneous 
self-activity. In other words, the function of Freedom is to 
attain Purity in the Personality. And similarly the function 
of the ideal of Purity is to afford free play to the inward 
self-determination and self-activity of the Personality by 


removing all external impediments, all stains and impurities, 
all vice, cowardice, intemperance and injustice, all evil and 
ugliness ; in short, all elements alien to the nature of the 
Personality, and thus to realise the Ideal of Freedom in the 

This statement differs considerably from the usual ways 
of formulating the Summum Bonum or Ethical End. The 
Pleasure of the Hedonist, the Good of the Intuitionist, and 
all the other abstract formulations of the Ethical End 
appear partial and one-sided from the holistic point of view. 
The end of Personality does not lie outside it but is given 
inwardly. As Goethe has so well said of Life : " Der Zweck 
des Lebens ist das Leben selbst/' Even more truly one may 
say that the Whole knows no end beyond or outside itself. 
The object of the holistic movement is simply the Whole, 
the Self-realisation and perfection of the Whole. And the 
same is true of Personality in so far as it is a whole. Its 
object is to achieve self-realisation, to realise its wholeness, 
to attain freedom not in a selfish, egoistic sense but in the 
universal holistic order. Holistic self-realisation is no 
doubt pleasurable to the individual; but the pleasure is a 
mere side issue and by-product, so to say, of the striving 
towards wholeness in the individual life and character. 
And the same may be said in regard to all the other particular 
ends and aims usually considered worthy of our serious 
endeavour. Learn to be yourself with perfect honesty, 
integrity and sincerity; let universal Holism realise its 
highest in you as a free whole of Personality; and all the 
rest will be added unto you peace, joy, blessedness, happi- 
ness, goodness and all the other prizes of life. Nay, more : 
the great evils of life pain, and suffering, and sorrow will 
only in the end serve to accelerate the holistic progress of 
the Personality, will be assimilated and transformed in the 
spiritual alchemy of the Personality and will feed the flame 
of the pure and free soul. 

It would be a mistake to look upon the ideal of personal 
holistic self-realisation as merely egoistic. No doubt in some 
cases the subjective selfish features may predominate; but 


earnest men will always find that to gain their life they must 
lose it ; that not in self but in the whole (including the self) 
lies the only upward road to the sunlit summits. We 
mostly move in the channels worn by social usage or con- 
vention and are influenced by personal and social impulses 
such as ambition, patriotism, love of money or power. But 
Holism is deeper than any of these. The inner call of Holism 
is to none of these things in themselves and for their own 
sake, but to its own victory in the personal life; to unity, 
freedom and free plastic power for the Personality; to 
active moral efficiency and the suppression of harmful 
elements in the personal life : in a word, to the wholeness 
and perfection of the Personality. The response to that 
call in the personal life constitutes the great inner drama, 
the warfare in the Soul, which issues either in the attain- 
ment of Wholeness and Freedom and membership in the 
immortal Order of the Whole, or otherwise in defeat, 
enslavement and death. 



Summary.- The fundamental, seminal character of the concept 
of Holism is bound to affect our general views of the nature of the 
universe, our Weltanschauung, and this chapter deals with this wider 
aspect of Holism. 

Holism has been presented in the foregoing chapters as the ulti- 
mate synthetic, ordering, organising, regulative activity in the 
universe which accounts for all the structural groupings and syntheses 
in it, from the atom and the physico-chemical structures, through 
the cell and organisms, through Mind in animals, to Personality in 
man. The all-pervading and ever-increasing character of synthetic 
unity or wholeness in these structures leads to the concept of Holism 
as the fundamental activity underlying and co-ordinating all others, 
and to the view of the universe as a Holistic Universe. 

On a strict and narrow view Science may consider the concept of 
Holism as extra-scientific, as giving a metaphysical and not a 
scientific explanation of things. But this would be a mistake for 
three reasons. In the first place, the conclusion to which Science is 
pointing, namely, that the whole universe, inorganic as well as 
organic, is the expression of cosmic Evolution, necessitates a ground- 
plan which will formulate and explain this vast scientific scheme 
of things. Mere preoccupation with detailed mechanisms will no 
longer suit the immensely enlarged scope of present-day Science. 
In the second place, Science has already had to assume such ultra- 
scientific entities as, for instance, the ether of space, as necessary to 
give a coherent explanation even of purely physical phenomena. 
And the correlation of the physical and organic and psychical in 
one vast scheme of Evolution similarly necessitates much more widely 
operative factors than have been hitherto recognised. Holism is far 
more necessary for cosmic Evolution than was the ether for light 
transmission. In the third place, Holism is essentially no more 
ultra-scientific than are life and mind ; it is simply a wider concept 
than either and is the genus of which they are the species. And it 
enables all the evolutionary phenomena of Nature to be co-ordinated 
under and traced to the same operative factor. 

The New Physics has traced the physical universe to Action; 
and Relativity has led to the concept of Space-Time as the 



medium for this Action. Space-Time means structure in the 
widest sense, and thus the universe as we know it starts as structural 
Action ; Action which is, however, not confined to its structures, but 
continually overflows into their " fields " and becomes the basis for 
the active dynamic Evolution which creatively shapes the universe. 
The " creativeness " of evolutionary Holism, and its procedure by 
way of small increments or instalments of " creation," are its most 
fundamental characters, from which all the particular forms and 
characteristics of the universe flow. 

The ignorance or neglect of these two fundamental characters 
accounts for the elements of error involved in certain widely held 
world-conceptions, such as Naturalism, Idealism, Monadism and 
Spiritual Pluralism or Panpsychism. Naturalism is wrong where it 
fails to recognise that there is creative Evolution, and that real 
new entities have arisen in the universe, in addition to the physical 
conditions of the beginning. Idealism is wrong where it fails to 
recognise that the Spirit or Psyche, although now a real factor, did 
not exist either explicitly or implicitly at the beginning, and has 
arisen creatively in the course of organic Evolution. The Monadism 
of Leibniz and his modern sympathisers, while a great advance in 
that it recognises the inward holistic element in things and persons, 
yet goes wrong when it attributes an element of Mind or Spirit to 
physical things like atoms or chemical structures. While things are 
wholes they are not yet souls; and the view of the universe as a 
Society of Spirits ignores the fact that spirit is a more recent creative 
arrival in the universe and cannot be retrospectively antedated to 
the earlier material phase. Spiritual Pluralism is a modern refine- 
ment of Monadism and similarly subject to the criticism that it fails 
to recognise the really creative character of Evolution. 

This is a universe of whole-making, not of soul-making merely. 
The view of the universe as purely spiritual, as transparent to the 
Spirit, fails to account for its dark opaque character ethically and 
rationally ; for its accidental and contradictory features, its elements 
of error, sin and suffering, which will not be conjured away by an 
essentially poetic world-view. Holism explains both the realism 
and the idealism at the heart of things, and is therefore a more 
accurate description of reality than any of these more or less partial 
and one-sided world-views. 

Nature or the Universe is sometimes metaphorically spoken of as 
a Whole or The Whole. Sometimes it is even personified, and the 
trend of Evolution then becomes the Purpose of some transcendent 
Mind. All this is, however, unwarranted by the facts and un- 
necessary as an explanation of Evolution. [Holism as an inner evolv- 
ing principle of direction and control in all Evolution is enough; it 
underlies the variations which arise and survive in the right direction, 
and it creates in the " field " of Nature a general environment of 


internal and external control. The " wholeness " or holisfic 
character of Nature appears mostly in this field or environment of 
Nature, with its friendly intimate influences, and its subtle appeal 
to all the wholes in Nature, and especially to the spiritual in us. The 
fact is that the Holism in Nature is very close to us and a real support 
in all our striving towards betterment. \ Qu^aspiraiiojnL_is_its in- 
spiration, and it is thus the inner guarantee of eventual victory in 
pfte of all set-backs and defeats. I 

THIS is not a treatise on Philosophy; not even on the 
philosophy of Nature; not even on the philosophy of 
Evolution. It is an exploration of one idea, an attempt to 
sketch in large and mostly vague, tentative outline the 
meaning and the consequences of one particular idea. But 
that is a seminal idea ; indeed it is here presented as more 
than an idea, as a fundamental principle operative in the 
universe. As such it is bound to affect our general view of 
the nature of the universe. I therefore come in this con- 
cluding chapter to consider what Holism means for our 
general world-view, our Weltanschauung, and as briefly as 
possible to sum up the bearing which the argument of the 
preceding chapters must have on such a general conception 
of the universe. 

Holism has been our theme Holism as an operative 
factor in the universe, the basic concept and categories of 
action of which can be more or less definitely formulated. 
I have in the broadest outline sketched the progress of 
Holism from its simple mechanical inorganic beginnings to 
its culmination in the human Personality. All through we 
have seen it at work as the fundamental synthetic, ordering, 
organising, regulating activity in the universe, operating 
according to categories which, while essentially the same 
everywhere, assume ever more closely unified and syn- 
thetic forms in the progressive course of its operation. 
Appearing at first as the chemical affinities, attractions 
and repulsions, and selective groupings which lie at the 
base of all material aggregations, it has accounted for 
the constitution of the atom, and for the structural 
organising of atoms and molecules in the constitution 


of matter. Next, after some gaps which are being ener- 
getically explored by biology and bio-chemistry, and still 
operating es a fundamental synthetic selective activity, 
it has emerged on a much higher level of organisation 
in the cell of life, and has again been responsible for the 
ordered grouping of cells in the life-structures of organisms, 
both of the plant and the animal type, and in the progressive 
complexifying of these structures in the course of organic 
Evolution. The synthetic activity in these organic structures 
has been so far-reaching that the independent existence of 
the original unit cells has sometimes been questioned, and the 
organism has been taken as the synthetic unit, of which the 
cell is but a defined portion of nucleated protoplasm. 1 In other 
words, theorganic synthesis of cells has been such as practically 
to lead to the suppression of the individual cells as such. 
Next, in the higher animals and especially in man, Holism 
has emerged in the new mutation or series of mutations of 
Mind, in which its synthetic co-ordinating activity has risen 
to an unheard-of level, has turned in upon itself and become 
experience, and has achieved virtual independence in the form 
of consciousness. Finally, it has organised all its previous 
structures, including mind, in a supreme structural unity in 
Human Personality, which has assumed a dominating 
position over all the other structures and strata of existence, 
and has in a sense become a new centre and arbiter of 
reality. Thus the four great series in reality matter, life, 
mind and Personality apparently so far removed from each 
other, are seen to be but steps in the progressive evolution of 
one and the same fundamental factor, whose pathway is 
the universe within us and around us. Holism constitutes 
them all, connects them all and, so far as explanations are at 
all possible, explains and accounts for them all. Holism is 
matter and energy at one stage ; it is organism and life at 
another stage ; and it is mind and Personality at its latest 
stage. And all its protean forms can in a measure be 
explained in terms of its fundamental characters and 
activities, as I have tried to show. All the problems of the 
1 Doncaster: Introduction to Study of Cytology, pp. 3-4. 


universe, not only those of matter and life, but also and 
especially those of mind and personality, which determine 
human nature and destiny, can in the last resort only be 
resolved in so far as they are at all humanly soluble by 
reference to the fundamental concept of Holism. For this 
reason I have called our universe " the Holistic universe/' 
as Holism is basic to its constitution, its multitudinous forms 
and its processes, its history in the past, and its promise and 
potency for the future. 1 

The scientist, viewing my claims for Holism in the dry 
light of Science, might perhaps feel tempted to demur to 
them. He might object that Holism is a mere assumption 
which may have a philosophical or metaphysical value, but 
that it has no scientific importance, as it cannot be brought 
to the test of actual facts and experiments. Holism as here 
presented, he will say, is not a matter for Science ; it is an 

1 Professor Lloyd Morgan has made the creative or emergent 
character of Evolution the theme of his book on Emergent Evolu- 
tion and it has been suggested to me that I should explain my 
relation to it. The fact is that my views had a different origin 
from his, and that they had been matured and the whole of this 
book written before I saw his interesting and suggestive volume. 
The result is that, in spite of many surprising similarities of thought, 
there remains an essential diversity in our themes as well as in our 
emphasis even on those matters on which we apparently agree. 
To him emergence of the new in the evolution of the universe is the 
essential fact; to me there is something more fundamental the 
character of wholeness, the tendency to wholes, ever more intensive 
and effective wholes, which is basic to the universe, and of which 
emergence or creativeness is but one feature, however important 
it is in other respects. Hence he lays all the emphasis on the feature 
of emergence, while I stress wholes or Holism as the real factor, 
from which emergence and all the rest follow. To me the holistic 
aspect of the universe as fundamental, and appears to be the key 
position both for the science and the philosophy of the future. 

Besides, Professor Lloyd Morgan makes the psychical factor 
the correlate at all stages of the physical factor, thus in effect getting 
back to the Spinozist position that all bodies, even inorganic matter, 
are animata in their several degrees. This view seems to be a rever- 
sion to the pre formation type of Evolution and to be destructive 
of all real effective " emergence." In any case it is wholly different 
from the view of creative advance consistently put forward in this 
book. As he makes life and mind as primordial in the order of the 
universe as matter, there is a special appropriateness in his adoption 
of the term "emergent " in preference to "creative " as the character 
of Evolution. 


ultra-scientific entity or concept. It falls outside the scope of 
Science, and the explanation of things which it purports to give 
is not a scientific explanation. Even assuming that there is 
such an activity as Holism at work in the universe, it would 
have no value for Science. To be of interest to Science, it 
must make a difference to actual facts and therefore be 
capable of experimental verification. But clearly Holism, 
owing to its pervasiveness and universality, cannot be 
so tested. As its presence would not be revealed by an 
examination of the particular facts, mechanisms and pheno- 
mena with which Science deals, it is unnecessary for Science 
to take any further interest in it. 

I hope I have fairly summarised the attitude which 
Science might perhaps feel impelled to adopt towards the 
claims I have put forward on behalf of Holism. And I would 
reply by pointing out what seems to me to be the weakness 
or rather the one-sidedness and partialness in this strictly 
scientific attitude. Science seems to me to take too narrow 
a view of her sphere and functions when she confines herself 
merely to details, to the investigation and description of the 
detailed mechanisms and processes in regard to matters 
falling within her province. A description of analytical 
details, however true so far as it goes, is not yet a full and 
proper account of the thing or matter to be described. It 
is not enough; the details must be supplemented by a 
description which will take us back to the whole embracing 
those details. The anatomy and physiology of a plant would 
surely not be sufficient as a description of the plant itself. No 
description of the parts is a complete description of the whole 
object ; it is only a partial descripton, and falls short of a 
true and full account in proportion as the object partakes of 
the character of a whole; where the object, for instance, is 
what I have called a biological or psychical whole. We may 
say generally that wherever an object shows structure or 
organisation (as every object does) a full description of it 
would involve at the very least an account of this structure 
or organisation as a whole, in addition to its detailed 
mechanisms and functions. And where many objects show 
similar or related structures, a proper description would in- 


volve an account of the ground-plan of organisation affecting 
them all. Thus in regard to organic and inorganic Evolution, 
where the whole world of matter and life and mind can be 
grouped into progressive series of structures from the begin- 
ning to the end, a scientific account of the universe would 
necessarily involve the working out of the universal ground- 
plan which expresses this Evolution. And it can but add to 
the value of such a ground-plan that it is not merely descriptive 
but also attempts to be self-explanatory. A plan or scheme 
is by its very nature not properly stated unless it is not merely 
described but also explained and accounted for as far as 
possible. Now I ask, what else is Holism but such an 
attempted ground-plan of the universe, which is of a self- 
explanatory character, a ground-plan which makes the 
whole scheme the progressive operation and effect of a given 
cause ? It may be objected that ultimate causes lie beyond 
the purview of Science. But even so the descriptive ground- 
plan of Holism would remain and would challenge serious 
consideration on scientific grounds. To me the issue seems 
quite simple. So long as Science eschewed all wider view- 
points (as she modestly did in her earlier years) and confined 
her attention to particular areas of facts, such as are em- 
braced by the separate sciences, she was quite entitled to 
look upon a general explanatory ground-plan of Evolution 
as too ambitious for her and as falling outside her proper 
sphere. But once she abandons this sectional standpoint 
and comes to look upon the entire universe as evolutionary 
(as she now does), she is bound to examine a scheme such as 
is here put forward on its merits as falling within her universal 

Science has been compelled in other instances to complete 
and support her account of detailed processes by the 
assumption of factors which lie beyond the area of observa- 
tion, but without which the detailed processes become un- 
intelligible. Thus the assumption of the ether of space was 
resorted to as the basis of the undulatory theory for the 
transmission of radiant energy. Although ether admittedly 
lies beyond the area of scientific observation and experi- 
ment, and no test however delicate has ever revealed its 


actual existence, it was long accepted as one of the con- 
ceptual entities which were necessary to complete the 
coherent system of Science, and indeed as a real physical 
element in the universe. It is true that ether seems to have 
fallen on evil days and that its existence or conceptual 
necessity is being more and more questioned by various 
groups of physicists. But it has admirably served its 
purpose as a scientific hypothesis, and the legitimacy of 
such a hypothesis was never questioned by even the most 
rigid school of scientists. And I would submit that the case 
for Holism is much stronger than that for ether ever was, as 
ether was meant to account only for one particular group 
of phenomena in physics, while Holism in the main phases 
of its development is necessary to account for the facts and 
phenomena of Evolution, both organic and inorganic. The 
plain fact is that, as our intellectual outlook widens and the 
intellectual horizons recede more and more, the domain of 
Science is undergoing an ever greater expansion, and there- 
fore the formulation of new principles and new concepts 
embodying them becomes necessary for the support and 
the coherence of the whole vast scheme of Science. Science 
is thus for ever encroaching on the domain of philosophy and 
the other great disciplines of the Reason or the Spirit, and 
it becomes ever more difficult to confine her activities within 
the old orthodox limits. Holism no doubt breaks new ground ; 
it is here intended as the basis of a new Weltanschauung 
within the general framework of Science ; it is meant to be 
the foundation of a new system of unity and inward character 
in our outlook upon the universe as a whole. But it does not 
fall outside the province of Science in the larger sense. And 
it does not introduce strange, alien concepts into the sphere 
of Science. 

I would also point out that the scientific objection to 
Holism as above formulated would, in fact, be identical with 
the objection which mechanistic Science has taken to life 
and mind as operative factors in the universe an objection 
which Science is feeling herself ever more strongly compelled 
to overrule. The difficulty to verify Holism in the detailed 
mechanisms and functions would be the same as the 


difficulty to verify life and mind as operative factors in 
organic and human structures. Holism is really no more 
than an attempt to extend the system of life and mind, with 
the necessary modifications and qualifications, to inorganic 
Evolution, and to show the underlying identity of this 
system at all the stages of Evolution. In life the character 
of the system becomes clear, in mind still more so. 
That is no reason to look upon it as non-existent in the case 
of matter. The facts submitted in the foregoing chapters 
disclose a more or less connected, graduated, evolutionary 
series covering the phenomena of matter no less than of life 
and mind. Holism is a concept and a factor which formulates 
and accounts for the fundamental ground-plan of this series. 
It is therefore very much of the same order of ideas as life 
and mind, and stands or falls very much by the same lines 
of reasoning as they. 

The graduated serial character of the universe has led to 
the theory of Evolution. But it is clear that that serial 
character opens up still greater questions of sources and 
origins. A connected graduated system of facts implies 
not only a particular method of their becoming, such as the 
theory of Evolution formulates, but also a common origin 
and a common propelling force or activity behind the 
system. In life and still more in mind we get clear indica- 
tions of this origin and this activity. All that remains is to 
take a wider view and to bring all the facts and pheno- 
mena of the universe within the scope of this common 
method and origin. We then reach the concept of Holism 
as embracing life and mind, but covering a much wider area 
and forming, in fact, the genus of which they are the species. 
All Evolution then becomes the manifestation of a specific 
fundamental, universal activity. 

Having thus attempted to vindicate Holism as a proper 
scientific concept in the wider sense, let us now proceed to 
sketch the main distinguishing features of the Holistic 
universe, in other words, of the conception of the universe 
which results from the principles discussed in the foregoing 
chapters. The final net result is that this is a whole- 
making universe, that it is the fundamental character of 


tMs universe to be active in the production of wholes, of 
ever more complete and advanced wholes, and that the 
Evolution of the universe, inorganic and organic, is nothing 
but the record of this whole-making activity in its progressive 
development. Let me briefly summarise the main points 
in the preceding argument which lead up to this result. 

We have seen that this is an essentially and wholly active 
universe ; that its apparent passiveness as matter is nothing 
but massed energy, and that activity is therefore its funda- 
mental character. Indeed, energy itself is too narrow and 
metrical a term to do justice to this character of the physical 
universe as concrete activity. Activity in time, energy mul- 
tiplied by time, Action as it is technically called in physics, 
is the physical basis of the universe as a whole, and nothing 
besides. The universe is a flowing stream in Space-Time, 
and its reality is not intelligible apart from this concept of 
activity. So much the new Relativity has made us realise ; 
and to this conclusion the profoundest reflections on the 
nature of the universe also tend. For us, constituted as we 
are, the universe starts and takes its origin in Action. With 
deeper meaning than ever before we realise that " Im Anfang 
war die That/' It is, of course, conceivable that much lies 
beyond and back of this beginning as it appears to us. It 
may be that the universe of Action has itself evolved out of 
a prior order which lies beyond human ken ; that there is an 
infinite regress of celestial Evolution into time past; and 
that the physical universe as it now appears to or is 
conceived by us is the evolved result of inconceivable 
prior developments. We do not know, and speculation 
would be barren and futile. 

The physical stuff of the universe is therefore really and 
truly Action and nothing else. But when we say that, when 
vve make activity instead of matter the stuff or material of 
the universe, a new view-point is subtly introduced. For the 
associations of matter are different from those of Action, and 
the dethronement of matter in our fundamental physical 
conception of the universe and its replacement by Action 
must profoundly modify our general outlook and view- 
points. The New Physics may prove a solvent for some of 


the most ancient and hardest concepts of traditional humn 
experience and has brought a rapprochement and recon- 
ciliation between the material and organic or psychical 
orders within measurable distance. I must refer to the 
concluding portion of the third chapter for a statement of 
this far-reaching advance which has been made by Science 
within this century. That is the contribution of the New 
Physics to the new outlook. 

Action in Space-Time is necessarily structural; indeed 
Space-Time supplies the co-ordinates, the framework of 
the Activity which is the ultimate stuff of the world. Space- 
Time is the structure ; hence Action in Space-Time, in the 
first phase of Holism, is purely structural and mechanistic, 
as we saw in Chapter VII. The recognition of the funda- 
mental structural character not only of matter but of the 
whole universe is the contribution of the Relativity theory 
to the new outlook. The physical world thus becomes at 
bottom structural Action, Activity structuralised in bodies, 
things, events. Thus arises the apparent material universe 
which surrounds us and in our bodies forms part of us. 

What is the next step ? Action does not come to a stop 
in its structures, it remains Action, it remains in action. 
In other words, there is more in bodies, things and events 
than is contained in their structures or material forms. 
All things overflow their own structural limits, the inner 
Action transcends the outer structure, and there is thus a 
trend in things beyond themselves. This inner trend in 
things springs from their very essence as localised, imprisoned 
Action. From this follow two important conclusions. The 
first is the concept of things as more than their apparent 
structures, and their " fields " as complementary to their 
full operation and understanding. A thing does not come 
to a stop at its boundaries or bounding surfaces. It is over- 
flowing Action, it passes beyond its bounds, and its surround- 
ing " field " is therefore essential not only to its correct 
appreciation as a thing, but also to a correct understanding 
of things in general, and especially of the ways in which they 
affect each other. I have tried, at various points in the fore- 
going discussion, to emphasise the great importance of this 


concept of " fields " not only for physics but also for biology 
and philosophy. 

The second and more important conclusion is the great 
fact and concept of Evolution. The inner character of 
the universe as Action expresses itself in actuality as a 
passage, a process, a passing beyond existing forms and 
structures, and thus the way is opened up for Evolution. 
The actual character of Evolution can, of course, only be 
concluded and known from the facts, and is not a matter of 
logical inference deducible from the nature of the universe 
as Action. But if activity is the essence of the universe we 
see more easily why the universe is evolutionary and 
historical rather than static and unchangeable. There is a 
passage, a process, a progress, but its characters can only 
be determined by a study of the facts of the passage. It 
may turn out to be merely a movement of combinations and 
groupings ; or it may turn out to be an unfolding, explica- 
tion and filling out, an evolutio in the stricter sense; or it 
may turn out to be a real creative Evolution such as we have 
seen it to be. Real Evolution requires other concepts 
besides those of Action and structure ; and these concepts can 
only be derived from experience. Thus the actual creative- 
ness of Evolution is a conclusion not so much from theory 
as from the empirical facts. And the exact nature of this 
creativeness is unknown in some respects and remains a prob- 
lem for the future to solve. 1 A still wider survey and closer 
scrutiny of the facts lead to the conception of Holism which 
accounts not only for the structural combinations of bodies, 
things and events, but for all the progressive series of unities 
and syntheses which have arisen in the cosmic process. 

Assuming that Holism and the nature of wholes in the 
universe have been sufficiently explained in the foregoing 
chapters, I now proceed to compare the world- view to which 
Holism leads with those which resemble or touch it at various 
points and yet are essentially different from it. 

The Holistic view agrees with the Naturalistic con- 
ception of physical science in giving the fullest importance 
to the physical aspect of the universe. It does full justice 

1 See pp. 136-8. 


to the structural and mechanistic characters of Nature, and 
indeed it considers Mechanism simply an earlier phase of 
Holism, and therefore perfectly legitimate up to a point. 
It affirms the validity of the fundamental laws and principles 
of physics not only for inorganic bodies but also for 
organisms, in so far as they are material. It represents 
the organic order as arising from and inside the inorganic 
or physical order without in any way derogating from 
it. If in the end it erects on the physical a super- 
structure which is more and more ideal and spiritual, that 
does not mean a denial of the physical. The idealism of 
Holism does not deny matter, but affirms and welcomes 
and affectionately embraces it. If Holism begins as real- 
ism and ends as idealism, it does not spurn or deny its 
own past; in Holism both realism and idealism have 
their proper place and function and indeed find their justi- 
fication and reconciliation. It breaks with Naturalism only 
at the point where Naturalism becomes purely materialistic, 
and in effect denies the creative plasticity of Nature, presents 
Nature as an anatomical museum, as a collection of dead and 
dried disjecta membra, instead of the interwoven body of 
living, creative, progressive unities and syntheses which she 
essentially is. Naturalism represents the universe as a vast 
reservoir of energy, unalterable in amount but steadily 
deteriorating in character, subject to immutable laws and 
fixed equations which prevent anything essentially new from 
ever arising or having arisen. It thus negatives the concept 
of creative Evolution except as a mere figure of speech. 
It presents life and mind as mere wandering insubstantial 
shadows on the shores of this ocean of energy; the great 
Mirage of Evolution broods over the waters; and Man 
himself, so far from being a creative factor in reality as a 
whole, becomes an impotent spectator of this melancholy 
scene, wrapped up in the illusions of his own self-con- 
sciousness. Such a view of the universe seems to me hope- 
lessly one-sided and distorted, and comes into direct conflict 
with large and important bodies of facts of experience which 
cannot be denied or reasoned away. To me the rock on 
which Naturalism must split is the fact of creative Evolution. 


Jn the first chapter I pointed out that the old materialistic 
Naturalism is inconsistent with a clear and frank recognition 
of the great fact of Evolution, and in the body of this work 
I have tried to drive the point further home. 

Creativeness is the key-word and the key-position, not 
only so far as Naturalism is concerned, but also as regards 
those other world-conceptions which are most hostile to 
Naturalism, such as the various modern forms of Spiritual 
Idealism. Naturalism imposes the past on the present and 
the future; Idealism, again, imposes the present and the 
future on the past. Both implicitly deny that creative 
Evolution which shows the universe historically as a gradual 
transformation, as a real creative process moving from the 
real structures of the past to the real structures of the 
future; and therefore as a system which in its historical 
development embraces and gives justification to both con- 
trasted points of view. To view the ideal or spiritual 
element in the universe as the dominant factor is to ignore 
the fact that the universe was before ever the ideal or 
spiritual had appeared on the horizon; that the ideal or 
spiritual is a new and indeed recent creation in the order of 
the universe, that it was not implicit in the beginnings and 
has not been reached by a process of unfolding; but that 
from a real pre-existing order of things it has been creatively 
evolved as a new factor; and that its importance 4 o-day 
should not be retrospectively antedated to a time when the 
world existed without it. Where was the Spirit when 
the warm Silurian seas covered the face of the earth, and the 
lower types of fishes and marine creatures still formed the 
crest of the evolutionary wave? Or going still further 
back, where was the Spirit when in the Pre-Cambrian 
system of the globe the first convulsive movements threw 
up the early mountains which have now entirely dis- 
appeared from the face of the earth, and when the living 
forms, if any, were of so low a type that none have been de- 
ciphered yet in the geological record ? Where was the Spirit 
when the Solar System itself was still a diffuse fiery nebula ? 
The evolutionary facts of Science are beyond dispute, and 
they support the view of the earth as existing millions of years 


before ever the psychical or spiritual order had arisen ; and 
what is true of the earth may be similarly true of the universe 
as a whole. The fact that we have to grasp firmly in connec- 
tion with creative Evolution is that, while the spiritual or 
psychical factor is a real element in the universe, it is a com- 
paratively recent arrival in the evolutionary order of things ; 
that the universe existed untold millions of years before its 
arrival ; and that it is just as wrong for Idealism to deny the 
world before the appearance of Spirit, as it is for Naturalism 
to deny Spirit when eventually it did appear in the world. 

Creative Evolution seems to move forward by small steps 
or instalments or increments of creativeness. Why there 
should be this discontinuity rather than a smooth con- 
tinuous advance we cannot say ; we can but note the fact, 
which seems to be a universal phenomenon. Not only does 
matter in its atomic and elemental structure show this 
minute discontinuity, but the electric elements in the atom, 
and in the electric current generally, and the quanta of heat 
and radiant energy show the same remarkable feature. 
Thus the unit character of Action and Structure is repro- 
duced in the unit character of Evolution and of nuclear 
change in the cell. There is real creation as distinct from 
mere combinations of pre-existing units or mere unfolding 
of implicit elements ; but this creation is not consummated 
in one supreme creative Act ; nor is it evenly and uniformly 
distributed throughout all time. Its distribution is un- 
evenly spread in minute parcels over the whole almost 
infinite range of Evolution. Evolution thus becomes a 
long-drawn-out process of creation, in which the new for 
ever arises by slow and minute increments from the old, or 
rather by way of the old, as it is not known how the new 
actually arises from the old. As I have explained in Chapter 
VII, Holism is the presiding genius of this advance. It deter- 
mines the direction of the advance, and it incorporates the 
new element of advance synthetically with the pre-existing 
structure. It thus harmonises the old and the new in its 
own unity; it sy nth esises Variation and Heredity; and by 
slow degrees and over enormous periods of time carries 
forward the creative process from the most simple, primitive, 


inorganic beginnings to the most exalted spiritual creations. 
From the atom to the Soul, from matter to Personality is a 
long way, marked by innumerable steps, each of which 
involved a real creative advance and added something 
essentially new to what had gone before. Such seems to be 
the nature of Evolution, and it appears to be fatal alike to 
the retrospective interpretation of the universe according 
to Idealism, and the prospective interpretation according to 
Naturalism. Mind or Spirit did not exist at the beginning, 
either implicitly or explicitly; but it does most certainly 
exist now as a real factor. 

Another world-conception which may be considered as 
having considerable affinities with the Holistic view is 
that of Leibniz's Monadology. The resemblance is, how- 
ever, confined to certain aspects of the respective central 
ideas; beyond those aspects the two views are totally and 
essentially different. There is a close resemblance between 
the central ideas of wholes and monads; that is all. The 
unities and units which exist in Nature seemed to Leibniz to 
be of the greatest importance for the interpretation of the 
universe; not the One but the Many and their intimate 
nature seemed to him to supply the key to the great riddle. 
I have in the foregoing reached the concept of wholes by a 
different process of reasoning from that followed by Loibniz, 
but the result looks very much like that arrived at by him 
along different lines. And the convergence of the two views 
from totally different standpoints would appear to suggest 
that there is a substantial element of truth and value in the 
concept of wholes, as there undoubtedly is in the Leibnizian 
theory of Monads. They agree in having an innerness, in 
being little worlds of their own, with their own inner laws 
of development and with a certain measure of inner self- 
direction or self-conservation which makes them partial 
mirrors or expressions of the greater reality. But the 
monads according to Leibniz are essentially spiritual entities 
or selves, conceived on the analogy of the human mind, and 
their activities are of a purely psychical character such as 
perception. They are, moreover, absolutely closed, isolated, 
self-contained units, each with its own immutable inner 



system, uninfluenced by any other monad; and all main- 
tained in harmony with each other by some divine pre- 
established order outside of them. The greater and lesser 
selves of the universe lead their own inner self-existences, 
without any contact between one another, and only the 
divine interposition maintains a Pre-established Harmony 
between them. There is a scale of these monads, from the 
lowest most simple, such as atoms or molecules, whose con- 
fused perceptions produce the world of matter, to the highest 
most complex in the universe, such as human minds, whose 
clear and distinct perceptions produce the world of spirit. 
God Himself is but the Supreme Monad of monads on this 
view. It will be seen how different this monadic conception 
is from that of wholes developed in this work. In the first 
place, wholes are not all spiritual entities, and the world is not 
a hierarchy of spirits exclusively, as Leibniz conceived it. 
Spiritual wholes are merely the apex and crowning feature of 
the universe, while non-spiritual (material or organic) wholes 
compose its earlier phases. In the second place, wholes are 
not closed, isolated systems externally ; they have their fields 
in which they intermingle and influence each other. The 
Holistic universe is a profoundly reticulated system of inter- 
actions and inter-connections rising into a real society in its 
later phases. In the third place, genetic relationships con- 
nect the entire Holistic universe. Wholes from the lowest to 
the highest are akin and form one great family, and are 
derived from one another in the process called Evolution. 
In the fourth place, it is the ascertainable character of this 
evolutionary process which holds all the wholes together in 
one vast network of adaptations and harmonious co-ordina- 
tions, and not some mystic assumed Pre-established 
Harmony. Leibniz, while he correctly guessed the real 
secret in his idea of Monads, missed yet the true explanation 
through not having any knowledge of creative Evolution, 
such as the deeper science of our day has revealed to us. 
To him Evolution was a mere unfolding of an implicit con- 
tent ; he adhered to the traditional preformation views of 
his day as well as to the current belief in the fixity of 
species. He could not, therefore, realise the idea that 


monads were genetically related and evolved ; and that the 
order which underlay the series of monads from the lowest 
to the highest was of a creative character. In the absence 
of genetic relationships and creative Evolution, he had to 
make shift with the notions of isolated inner selves and a 
pre-established harmony. We may therefore say that just 
as both Naturalism and Idealism are shattered on the rock 
of creative Evolution, so likewise the Monadology, however 
valuable and suggestive in other respects, founders on that 
same rock, which was, however, still secret and undisclosed 
to the science of Leibniz's time. But for that ignorance 
who knows whether Leibniz might not have elaborated a far 
more adequate and suggestive Holistic conception than 
that contained in this poor effort ! 

The astonishing thing is that thinkers of our own time, 
who are not only conversant with the idea of creative 
Evolution but convinced adherents of it, fail to adjust their 
view-points to it. Thus the late Professor James Ward, 
who advocated the view of Evolution as epigenesis or creative 
synthesis, and whose Pluralism has close affinities to the 
Monadology, seems yet to have failed to realise that his view 
of Evolution as creative was in conflict with his spiritual 
Pluralism or Panpsychism. His Pluralistic universe also 
consists entirely of spiritual monads or entities, and this 
implies the possession of spiritual or psychical characters 
not only on the part of the higher monads, like persons, but 
also on the part of the most rudimentary monads, such as 
atoms and chemical compounds. Spinoza, who otherwise 
differed widely from Leibniz, had also assumed that all 
things were in their several degrees animata, but he had 
the excuse of being, like Leibniz, ignorant of the idea 
of creative Evolution. But Ward, in spite of his fuller 
knowledge, calmly follows Leibniz and Spinoza in their 
error. The plain fact, of course, is that psychism or 
spiritualism can by no stretch of language be ascribed to 
mere bits of matter or energy or physical entities like atoms 
or chemical compounds without the gravest confusion. 
The very idea of creative Evolution or epigenesis is that 
both life and mind are later arrivals in the evolutionary 


series, and cannot possibly be antedated to the mere physical 
level of Evolution. There is not a great Society of Spirits 
in the universe, of which Persons and Things, Souls and Atoms, 
alike are members on the same spiritual footing. When the 
term " Spiritual " is stretched that far and spread that thin, it 
loses all real value and becomes a mere empty figure of speech. 
There is indeed no such spiritual Society of the whole universe, 
but there is the Holistic order, which is something far greater, 
and stretches from the beginning to the end, and through all 
grades and degrees of holistic self-fulfilment. Holism, not 
Spiritualism, is the key to the interpretation of the universe. 
Mind is not at the beginning but at the end, but Holism is 
everywhere and all in all. If the universe were a great spirit- 
ual Society of lower and higher souls or spirits, Evolution as 
creative would become meaningless ; it would be merely a 
process of explication of the implicit spirituality (if any) 
inherent in the universe. The Holistic view thus not merely 
negatives the far-reaching spiritual assumptions of the 
Monadology, or Panpsychism, but it is also in firm agreement 
with the teachings of science and experience. Nor does it, in 
fact, detract from the value or importance of the universe. 
It but impresses on us the necessity of that great lesson of 
humility which is the ethical message of Evolution. It 
shows that values should not be confused with origins, and 
that from origins the most lowly may be raised values the 
most exalted and spiritual in the order of the universe. The 
Great Society of the universe leaves a place for the most 
humble inanimate inorganic structure no less than for the 
crowning glory of the great soul. To conceive the universe 
otherwise is to indulge in anthropomorphism, which may be 
pleasing to our vanity, but in reality detracts from the rich- 
ness and variety of the universe. The Holistic universe 
embraces all the real structures from the lowest to the highest 
in their own right and as they are, without decking them in 
spiritual habiliments which are alien to their true nature. 
This world, in the noble language of Keats, is indeed the 
valley of soul-making ; but it could not be that if the valley 
itself consisted of nothing but souls. To those who have the 
deepest experience of life, this world is not only the upward 


path for the soul, but a very hard and flinty one. To attempt 
to pave that rugged way with the roses of the spiritual order 
would be a profound mistake from every point of view. 

To say this is not to assume that there is anything alien 
or antagonistic between the human soul and the natural 
environment in which it finds itself in this world. There is 
not only poetic value but profound truth in the spiritual 
interpretation of Nature to which Wordsworth and other 
great poets of Nature have accustomed us. And that truth 
is not merely due to the creative part which mind plays in 
the shaping and fashioning of Nature. It is not merely 
that we invest Nature with our own emotional attributes. 
It is, in fact, to be traced to far deeper sources in our human 
origins. For we are indeed one with Nature; her genetic 
fibres run through all our being ; our physical organs connect 
us with millions of years of her history ; our minds are full 
of immemorial paths of pre-human experience. Our ear 
for music, our eye for art, carry us back to the early begin- 
nings of animal life on this globe. Press but a button in our 
brain, and the gaunt spectres of the dim forgotten past rise 
once more before us; the ghostly dreaded forms of the 
primeval Fear loom before us and we tremble all over with 
inexplicable fright. And then again some distant sound, 
some call of bird or smell of wild plants, or some sunrise or 
sunset glow in the distant clouds, some mixture of light and 
shade on the mountains, may suddenly throw an unearthly 
spell over the spirit, lead it forth from the deep chambers, 
and set it panting and wondering with inexpressible emo- 
tions. For the overwrought mind there is no peace like 
Nature's, for the wounded spirit there is no healing like 
hers. There are indeed times when human companionship 
becomes unbearable, and we fly to Nature for that silent 
sympathy and communion which she alone can give. Some 
of the deepest emotional experiences of my life have come 
to me on the many nights I have spent under the open 
African sky ; and I am sure my case has not been singular 
in this respect. The intimate rapport with Nature is one 
of the most precious things in life. Nature is indeed 
very close to us; sometimes perhaps closer than hands 


and feet, of which in truth she is but the extension. 
The emotional appeal of Nature is tremendous, some- 
times almost more than one can bear. But to explain 
it we need not make the unwarrantable assumption of 
a universal animism or animatism, and invest inanimate 
things with souls kindred to our own. Evolution, with the 
genetic relationships and fundamental kinship it implies, 
accounts for all this intimate emotional appeal. The idea 
of the universe as a spiritual Society of Souls is a poetical 
idealised picture, and not in accord with the sober realistic, 
scientific view of the facts. This is a universe of whole- 
making, not merely of soul-making, which is only its climax 
phase. The universe is not a pure transparency of Reason 
or Spirit. It contains unreason and contradiction, it con- 
tains error and evil, sin and suffering. There are grades 
and gaps, there are clashes and disharmonies between the 
grades. It is not the embodiment of some simple homo- 
geneous human Ideal. It is profoundly complex and replete 
with unsearchable diversity and variety. It is the ex- 
pression of a creative process which is for ever revealing 
new riches and supplying new unpredictable surprises. 
But the creative process is not, on that account, issuing 
in chaos and hopeless irreconcilable conflict. It is for 
ever mitigating the conflict through a higher system of 
controls. It is for ever evolving new and higher wholes 
as the organs of a greater harmony. Through the steadily 
rising series of wholes it is producing ever more highly 
organised centres whose inner freedom and creative 
metabolism transform the fetters of fate and the contin- 
gencies of circumstance into the freedom and harmony of 
a more profoundly co-operative universe. But though the 
crest of the spiritual wave is no doubt steadily rising, the 
ocean which supports it contains much more besides the 
Spirit. Enough for us to know that the lower is not in 
hopeless enmity to the higher, but its basis and support, a 
feeder to it, a source whence it mysteriously draws its 
creative strength for further effort, and hence the necessary 
pre-condition for all further advance. Thus beneath all 
logical or ethical disharmonies there exists the deeper creative, 


genetic harmony between the lower and the higher grades 
in the Holistic series. 

Reference must be made to one more question or set of 
questions before we conclude. I have said before that the 
scope of this work is limited, and that it is not intended to 
deal exhaustively with the entire subject of Holism. But 
within the limits of the introductory task which I have 
set myself here, one problem remains to be mentioned. It 
is the problem of The Whole, the great whole itself as dis- 
tinguished from the lesser wholes which we have found as 
the texture of Evolution. In other words, is there a Whole, 
a Supreme Whole, of which all lesser wholes are but parts or 
organs ? And if there is such a Whole of wholes, how is it 
to be conceived ? Is it to be conceived on the analogy of 
an organism, as Nature? Or is it to be conceived on the 
analogy of Mind and Personality as a Supreme divine 
Personality ? Or are both these conceptions inadmissible, 
and is there some other way of conceiving the system of 
wholes in their actual or possible synthesis? These are 
very difficult and thorny questions, but it is clear that we 
cannot leave the consideration of wholes at the present stage 
of our argument. For that argument implies clearly some- 
thing more to complete it, even in the preliminary way which 
is all that is intended in this work. 

Two points arise from the preceding discussion which 
naturally carry us forward to the consideration of these 
larger questions. In the first place, where do we fix 
the limits of a lesser whole? In a whole we have in- 
cluded its field; but how far does this field extend? 
What limits are there to the field of an inorganic body, 
or an organism, or a Personality? Leibniz represented 
each monad as containing or mirroring the whole universe in 
its own way and from its own particular angle; lower 
monads, of course, more imperfectly than higher monads; 
but each in its own degree is a sort of microcosm or minia- 
ture universe. In other words, each tiniest least monad is 
in a sense cosmic and universal. This description would not 
apply to a field. As we have seen, a field is of the same 
character as the inner area of the whole, only more attenuated 


in its force and influence, and the farther it recedes from 
that area the greater the attenuation ; so that the field, 
though theoretically indefinite in extent, is in effect quite 
limited in practical operation. When we come to consider 
a group of wholes we see that, while the wholes may be 
mutually exclusive, their fields overlap and penetrate and 
reinforce each other, and thus create an entirely new situation. 
Thus we speak of the atmosphere of ideas, the spirit of a class, 
or the soul of a people. The social individuals as such remain 
unaltered, but the social environment or field undergoes a 
complete change. There is a multiplication of force in the 
society or group owing to this mutual penetration of the 
conjoint fields, which creates the appearance and much of 
the reality of a new organism. Hence we speak of social or 
group or national organisms. But as a matter of fact there 
is no new organism ; the society or group is organic without 
being an organism; holistic without being a whole. The 
mentality of a crowd as distinct from the number of in- 
dividuals composing it is a good illustration of the changed 
and reinforced mental field which results from the meeting 
of many individuals and the fusion and heightening of their 
conjoint fields. And the more psychic they are, the more 
they are under the influence of strong passions or carried 
away by some contagious idea, the more overpowering the 
common field becomes. The force of the group field is 
generally out of all proportion to the strength of the idea 
or the passions in the individual units composing the group. 
The group field is so to say the multiplication of all the 
individual fields. The subject falls under the study of 
social psychology and is referred to here only for the pur- 
pose of illustration. We have in such cases an organic 
situation but not an organism. Groups, families, churches, 
societies, nations are organic but not organisms. 

Taking all the wholes in the world and viewing them 
together in Nature, we see a similar interpenetration and 
enrichment of the common field. When we speak of Nature 
we do not mean a collection of unconnected items, we mean 
wholes with their interlocking fields; we mean a creative 
situation which is far more than the mere gathering of 


individuals and their separate fields. This union of fields is 
creative of a new and indefinable spirit or atmosphere ; the 
external mechanical situation is transformed into an in- 
ward synthetic, " organic " situation or atmosphere. This 
" organic " Nature seems in certain situations to be alive to 
us, to stir strange unsuspected depths in us, to make an 
appeal to our emotional nature which often " lies too deep for 
tears/' Thus we come to consider Nature as an organism; 
we personify her, we even deify and worship her. But the 
sober fact is that there is no new whole or organism of Nature ; 
there is only Nature become organic through the intensi- 
fication of her total field. In other words, Nature is holistic 
without being a real whole. 

Nor is it merely we humans, with our intense psychic 
sensitivity, who feel this appeal of organic or holistic Nature. 
All organic creatures feel it too. The new science of Ecology 
is simply a recognition of the fact that all organisms feel 
the force and moulding effect of their environment as a 
whole. There is much more in Ecology than merely the 
striking down of the unfit by way of Natural Selection. 
There is a much more subtle and far-reaching influence within 
the special or local fields of Nature than is commonly 
recognised or suspected. Sensitivity to appropriate fields 
is not confined to humans, but is shared by animals and 
plants throughout organic Nature. 

There is a second point which emerges from the foregoing 
chapters and leads up to the issue now under discussion. 

In Chapter VII we have spoken of a general common 
trend of Evolution, of Evolution as not tacking and veering 
about, but as moving in one general direction, as keeping 
a general course and direction through all the endless ages 
of her voyaging. How is this to be explained? Here 
again the expedient of personification is often resorted to 
for the purpose of finding an explanation. It is said that 
Evolution discloses a grand inner Purpose, that Nature or 
the universe is purposive or teleological, and that no other 
category will do justice to the great fact of Evolution as we 
see it. But if there is purpose there must be a Mind behind 
that purpose. And thus Mind comes to be personified in 


Nature as the source of the great evolutionary purpose wkich 
the world discloses. Cosmic Teleology spells a corresponding 
transcendent Personality. Do the facts warrant or necessi- 
tate such tremendous assumptions? Would it not rather 
seem that the whole basis of this reasoning is unsound and 
false ? In all the previous cases of wholes we have nowhere 
been able to argue from the parts to the whole. Compared 
to its parts, the whole constituted by them is something 
quite different, something creatively new, as we have seen. 
Creative Evolution synthesises from the parts a new entity 
not only different from them but quite transcending them. 
That is the essence of a whole. It is always transcendent 
to its parts, and its character cannot be inferred from the 
characters of its parts. Now the above reasoning, by which 
a supra-mundane Mind or Personality is reached, ignores 
this fact. Such a " Personality " would be creatively new 
and unlike the wholes which we know and which would 
constitute its parts. It would be as different at least from 
human Personality as this again is from mere organism. To 
call such a new Transcendent Whole by the same name as 
human Personality is to abuse language and violate thought 
alike. There is universal agreement with the well-known 
argument of Kant, that from the facts of Nature no inference 
of God is justified. The belief in the Divine Being rests, 
and necessarily must rest, on quite different grounds, as a 
God whose concept is deduced from natural process is 
not a being whom the human soul can worship. From 
the facts of Evolution no inference to a transcendent Mind 
is justified, as that would make the whole still of the same 
character and order as its parts; which would be absurd, 
as Euclid says. From the facts neither an organism nor a 
Mind of Nature can strictly be inferred ; still less a Person- 
ality constituted by both. It may be that the universe is 
a whole in the making. That has been suggested as a 
possible view. But as yet no such whole can be discerned 
or inferred, either in its lower organic or its higher 
personal form. The World-Soul is a poetic metaphor 
and probably no more. 

Nor is it necessary to make these far-reaching assumptions. 


Th<ve is indeed a great trend in Evolution, but it would be 
wrong and a misnomer to call that trend a purpose, and 
worse to invent a Mind to which to refer that purpose. 
There is something organic and holistic in Nature which 
shapes her ends and directs her courses. Without forming 
an organism or a mind the totality of wholes which compose 
Nature develops an organic field which is sufficient to control 
her creative movement. As a physical field has its lines of 
force, so the organic field of Nature, which results from the 
creative interpenetration of all fields of wholes composing 
her, has its own structural curves of progress. In human 
society we see how the social field or atmosphere becomes a 
system of control, a moulding influence to which all incom- 
ing members are subject. The individual in society is born 
into a vast network of controls, and from birth to death 
he never escapes its subtle toils. The holistic organic 
field of Nature exercises a similar subtle moulding, controlling 
influence in respect of the general trend of organic advance. 
That trend is not random or accidental or free to move in all 
directions; it is controlled, it has the general character of 
uniform direction under the influence of the organic or 
holistic field of Nature. 

And there is more. Behind the evolutionary movement 
and the holistic field of Nature is the inner shaping, directive 
activity of Holism itself, working through the wholes and in 
the variations which creatively arise from them. We have 
seen in Chapter VIII that these variations are not accidental 
or haphazard, but the controlled, regulated expression of 
the inner holistic development of organisms as wholes. 
There is Selection, and thus direction and control, right 
through the entire forward movement, not only in the origin 
of variations but also at the various subsequent stages of 
their " selection/ 1 internal and external. This organic 
holistic control of direction, this inner trend of the evolu- 
tionary process, is really all that is meant by the metaphor 
of Purpose or Teleology as applied to Nature or Evolution. 
To infer more is in effect to make the mistake of spiritual 
Idealism and to apply later human categories to the earlier 
phases of the evolutionary process. 


Thus it is that when we speak of Nature or the Univers^ as 
a Whole or The Whole, we merely mean Nature or the 
Universe considered as organic, or in its organic or holistic 
aspects. We do not mean that either is a real whole in the 
sense defined in this work. We have seen that the creative 
intensified Field of Nature, consisting of all physical organic 
and personal wholes in their close interactions and mutual 
influences, is itself of an organic or holistic character. That 
Field is the source of the grand Ecology of the universe. 
It is the environment, the Society vital, friendly, edu- 
cative, creative of all wholes and all souls. It is not 
a mere figure of speech or figment of the imagination, 
but a reality with profound influences of its own on all 
wholes and their destiny. It is the oZ/co, the Home of 
all the family of the universe, with something profoundly 
intimate and friendly in its atmosphere. In this Home 
of Wholes and Souls the creative tasks of Holism are 
carried forward. Without idealising it unduly we yet feel 
that it is very near and dear to us, and in spite of all 
antagonisms and troubles we come in the end to feel 
that this is a friendly universe. Its deepest tendencies are 
helpful to what is best in us, and our highest aspirations 
are but its inspiration. Thus behind our striving towards 
betterment are in the last resort the entire weight and 
momentum and the inmost nature and trend of the universe. 

I have now reached the end of my argument. The re- 
flections embodied in this work lie far removed from the 
busy and exciting scenes in which most of my life has been 
spent ; and yet both of them tend toward the same general 
conclusions. It has been my lot to have passed many of 
the years of my life amid the conflicts of men, in their wars 
and their council chambers. Everywhere I have seen men 
search and struggle for the Good with grim determination 
and earnestness, and with a sincerity of purpose which added 
to the poignancy of the fratricidal strife. But we are still 
far, very far, from the goal to which Holism points. The 
Great War with its infinite loss and suffering, its toll of 
untold lives, the shattering of great States and almost 
of civilisation, the fearful waste of goodwill and sincere 


hifcnan ideals which followed the close of that vast tragedy 
has been proof enough for our day and generation that 
we* are yet far off the attainment of the ideal of a really 
Holistic universe. But everywhere too I have seen that it was 
at bottom a struggle for the Good, a wild striving towards 
human betterment; that blindly, and through blinding 
mists of passions and illusions, men are yet sincerely, 
earnestly groping towards the light, towards the ideal of a 
better, more secure life for themselves and for their fellows. 
Thus the League of Nations, the chief constructive outcome 
of the Great War, is but the expression of the deeply-felt 
aspiration towards a more stable holistic human society. 
And the faith has been strengthened in me that what has here 
been called Holism is at work even in the conflicts and con- 
fusions of men ; that in spite of all appearances to the 
contrary, eventual victory is serenely and securely waiting, 
and that the immeasurable sacrifices have not been in vain. 
The groaning and travailing of the universe is never aimless 
or resultless. Its profound labours mean new creation, the 
slow, painful birth of wholes, of new and higher wholes, and 
the slow but steady realisation of the Good which all 
the wholes of the universe in their various grades dimly 
yearn and strive for. It is the nature of the universe to 
strive for and slowly, but in ever-increasing measure, to 
attain wholeness, fullness, blessedness. The real defeat for 
men as for other grades of the universe would be to ease the 
pain by a cessation of effort, to cease from striving towards 
the Good. The holistic nisus which rises like a living 
fountain from the very depths of the universe is the guarantee 
that failure does not await us, that the ideals of Well-being, 
of Truth, Beauty and Goodness are firmly grounded in the 
nature of things, and will not eventually be endangered or 
lost. Wholeness, healing, holiness all expressions and ideas 
springing from the same root in language as in experience 
lie on the rugged upward path of the universe, and are secure 
of attainment in part here and now, and eventually more 
fully and truly. The rise and self-perfection of wholes in 
the Whole is the slow but unerring process and goal of 
this Holistic universe, 


ABSOLUTE Values as wholes, 109 
Absolutists and " the whole/' 102, 

104-5, 113; their sterile monism, 

Abstraction, the error of , 15, 20-1, 

22 n, 29, 121, 122, 1 86 
Acceleration and gravitation, 

equivalent expressions, 29-30, 31 
Acquired characters, inheritance of, 

202, 209-10 
Acquired experience, inheritance of, 

214 n. 
Action, the physical basis of the 

universe, 33, 42, 45, 52-3, 57, 335, 

33i 337 1 its structural character, 

42-3, .45. 336 
Adsorption, 47 
Alchemists, their guesses not far 

from the truth, 43-4 
Alga and fern, possible bridge 

between, 76 

Algonkian mountains, age of, 43 n. 
Alternation of generations, basis of, 


Aquinas, St. Thomas, holistic doc- 
trine of, 1 06 n. 

Analysis, the error of, 20, 21, 29 

Anaxagoras, 238 

Aniline dyes, 58 

Animals : the psychical develop- 
ment manifested in Sexual Selec- 
tion, 13-14 ; plants and, their simi- 
larities and divergences, 71, 72, 
74-5; co-ordination and self- 
regulation in, 78, 79, 84, 108, 109, 
239, 240; power of self-healing 
in, 82-3 ; regarded as wholes, 
83-4, 108, 109; Whitehead's doc- 
trine of organic mechanism, 122; 
animals and humans, heredity 
and educability, 261, 283 

Aristotelianism of St. Thomas 
Aquinas, and Holism, 106 n. 

Armstrong, Dr. E. F., 48 

Artistic creations as wholes, 100- 
101, 108 

Associative memory of white mice, 
experiments on, 214 n. 

Atom, the, 38, 41, 62, 72, 85, 
100, 1 80; importance of placing 
and spacing of atoms, 38-9; 
not static but active in the 
Space-Time continuum, 39; the 
conquests of the New Physics, 
39-40 ; theory of Rutherford and 
Bohr, 40-42 ; nucleus, electrons, 
and quanta of radiation, 40-41, 
42, 50; its planetary structure, 

40, 41, 46, 49, 85; the proton, 

41, 42; as a potential source of 
energy, 43 ; the artificial break- 
ing up of matter and the trans- 
mutation of metals, 43-4; ex- 
ternal properties dependent on 
internal structure, 44-5 ; the 
basis of the hypothesis of its 
structure, 49-5 1 ; not an organ- 
ism, 124; a creation of Holism, 
136, 160, 237, 238, 328-9; dis- 
continuity in its structure, 340 

Atomic numbers, 41-2 
Attention, development of power 
of, 245, 246, 249, 250 

Baly, Professor, 70 

Beauty, its holistic basis, 230, 231 

Becquerel, 24, 39 

Bergson : his philosophy of Evolu- 
tion summarised and examined, 
94-7; the principle of Duration, 
94-5, 96, 97, 102, 118; the Intel- 
lect, 95-A 97> II 4 

Berkeley, 279, 281 

Bio-chemical mechanisms, 158 

Bio-chemical wholes, 158-9, 161, 
I 75 1 7&, 177. See Organisms. 

Bio-chemistry, recent advances in, 

Biographies as aids to the science 

of Personology, 293-8, 303 
Biological wholes, 102, 103, 106-7 
Biology : and a new concept of life, 3, 
5; Mechanism and, 4, 5, u, 112, 
116-17, 128; latest advances in, 
5,7; new syntheses more impor- 
tant than specialisation, 5, 7, 




iV Sexual Selection in Organic 
Evolution, 14 ; its study of Evolu- 
tion and the cell, 62 ; value of 
the concept of the whole to, 
113, 230, 268; value of the con- 
cept of "fields" to, 116-19; 
Vitalism and, 167; the germ- 
cell theory of Variation, 198, 206- 
ii ; Mendelism, 202, 203-4; 
Personality compared to bio- 
logical sports, 285 

Body, the : needless confusion over 
interaction of mind and, 164, 165 ; 
early Christian controversy on 
immortality, 165 ; Descartes and 
the relation of mind and, 168, 
171, 177; the laws of thermo- 
dynamics and the principles of 
mind and, 170-78; Holism on 
the action of " life "on, 180-89; 
the Subject-Object relation of 
mind and, 248 ; in relation to 
Personality, 273-6, 288, 289; 
relations of spirit and, 273, 275-6 ; 
conventionally degraded by mor- 
bid religious spirit, 274; re- 
habilitated by modern science, 
275 ; relation of mind and, in 
Personality, 276-80, 286, 288 

Body-cells differentiated from germ- 
cells, 207, 209-10; possible reci- 
procal influence of body-cells and 
germ-cells, 211, 212, 213-14, 228 

Bohr, Professor Niels, 40 

Bower, Professor F. p., 216 n. 

Brain, the : its holistic functions, 
150; mind and, 253, 262 

Breathing, physiology of, 148 

Brown, Robert, 63 

Cage, closed, Einstein's illustration, 


Carbon dioxide, its transformation 
in the plant, 69, 78 

Carlyle, arrested development of 
his inner self, 295 

Catalysis, use of colloids in, 47, 69 

Causation, rigid concept of, in 
19th-century science, 9, 16-17, 
162, 163; and the idea of 
" fields," 17-19; Holism and, 

134-5* 142-3. M4. 145-6, 3*4. 3 J 5- 
16, 317; freedom creative within 
the process of, 145-7, 315-16 
Cell, the, 62, 64, 65, 84, 85, 99, 100, 
161, 230, 237, 238, 239; colloidal 
system of plant cell, 47-8, 66; 
enzyme action in, 47-8, 69-70; 
the chromosomes, 54, 63, 72, 74, 

200, 228, 229 n.; history of study 
of cells, 63-4 ; structure and func- 
tions of cells, 63, 64-70, 119; the 
cell wall, 63, 66; cell-divisions, 
63. 64, 71-2, 74-5, 77; attempt 
to explain physical mechanism of 
heredity from, 64; some central 
control of its functions implied, 
67, 68-9, 78, 79-85, 199; its 
origin possibly electrical, 71- 
6; reproduction by reduction 
division, 74-5, 77; single-content 
and double-contents cells, 75; 
differentiation in cells, and diver- 
gence of plant and animal forms, 
76-8, 8 1 ; the co-operation and co- 
ordination of cells towards a whole, 
79-86, 99, 199, 223, 239, 329; 
the power of restitution of 
damaged cells, 82 ; body-cells 
differentiated from germ cells, 
207, 209-10; possible reciprocal 
influence of body-cells and germ- 
cells, 211, > 12, 213-14, 228 ; germ- 
cell theory of Variation, 196, 198, 
199, 202, 203-14, 2^8-9 
Cell-division, process of, 64, 712, 
74-5, 77 ; its electrical character, 


Chance, the idea of, a fallacy, 185-6 

Characterology, 291 

Chemical affinity, accounted for, 
39, 44-5 ; the selectiveness of 
matter in its colloid state possibly 
related to, 58; Holism and, 328 

Chemical changes in environment 
and hereditary variations, 212 n. 

Chemical compounds, holistic char- 
acter of, 106, 108, 109, 130, 136, 
140-41, 1 80; Mechanism and 
chemical combination, 157 

Chemistry, 55 ; the analysis of the 
constitution of matter, 38 ; the 
importance of " structure," 38, 
39 ; two types of chemical change, 

Chlorophyll, its part in plant life, 
4?, 59. 69, 72, 78 

Christianity and the evolution of 
the idea of Personality, 292 

Chromosomes, 63; differences in, 
and organic variations, 54 ; 
their behaviour in cell-division, 
72, 74 ; hereditary characters 
carried by, 208, 228, 229 n. 

Clerk-Maxwell, 173-5, 177, 179, 180 

Colloid state of matter, 46-8, 58-9, 
69, 161, 169; distinctive of all 
life-forms, 47 ; colloidal system of 



plant eel], 47-8, 66; distinctive 
properties of colloids, 47-8, 69- 
70 ; enzyme action, 47-8, 69-70 ; 
anticipates processes and activities 
of life, 58-9, 108 

Compounds, unstable equilibrium 
and formation of, 45 

Conation, development of capacity 
of, 246-7, 249, 251 

Concepts and their " fields," 17-19; 
holistic unity of conceptual sys- 
tem, 247, 253, 255, 256 

Configuration psychology, 269 

Consciousness : the closed system 
of physical science denied by, 
162-4, 172, 177; the develop- 
ment of, 245, 246-7, 248, 249, 250, 
259, 329; the Subject and the 
Object in, 247-9, 301, 316; 
and the "field" of mind, 262; 
its freedom and spontaneity, 315, 
3*6. 3 1 ?, 3i8, 329 

Conservation of energy, law of, 
and the systems of life and mind, 
170, 171-2, 173-7. 3*4 

Co-operation and co-ordination, 
holistic, 78-85, 108, 223-4, 229, 
239-41 ; in the cells, 79-85, 99, 
199, 223, 239, 329; in variations, 
217-18, 219, 229; mental pro- 
cesses crude in comparison, 240 

Creation : two views of the creation 
of the universe, 90-92, 137 ; an 
unintelligible sense of the word 
creation, 135, 138; holistic 
creation, 136, 144-5. $ ee Crea- 
tive Evolution. 

Creative Evolution, 91-8, 135, 144- 
5, 148-9, 178, 225-6, 284, 337; 
modern belief in, and its implica- 
tions, 9-1 1 ; science and philo- 
sophy brought together by, 92- 
4 ; as structure plus principle, 
93, 94; Bergson's system sum- 
marised and examined, 94-7; 
its holistic character, 100, 101-2, 
104-5, 136-9, 145, 148-50, 151, 
220, 221-4, 225-6, 330 n,, 332, 334, 
33734-4 I > 344. 35*; fundamen- 
tal issues raised by, 139-47; the 
lower unit always the basis of 
the next higher, 160-61, 177, 182, 
185, 1 86, 340; beyond the scope 
of Mendelism, 204 ; the germ-cell 
theory of Variation, 196, 198, 
199, 202, 203-14, 228-9; nega- 
tive aspect of, 224-5 ; Naturalism 
irreconcilable with, 338-9, 341, 
343 ; Spiritualism irreconcilable 
with, 339-40. 341. 342, 343-4; 

discontinuity of its progress, 
340-41 ; Monadology and, 341-3; 
Pluralism and, 343-5 ; ano^ the 
idea of a Supreme Whole, 350-52 

Creative Evolution (Bergson), 95, 
96, 98 

Creativeness : of mind, 34, 92, 255, 
259-61, 345; of matter, 54-9, 91- 
2, 98, 136; of thought, 92; of 
Holism, 103, no-ii, 136-43, 149- 
51, 186, 189, 230, 231, 282, 313, 
314 ; fundamental issues raised by 
concept of, 139-47; reaches its 
maximum in Personality, 284 ; of 
Personality, 313-14 

Crowd mind, the, 348 

Crystal structure, 39, 46; the 
lattice pattern, 46 ; the unit body, 
46; process of its growth, 68 

Curves, the pathways of all events 
in the Space-Time universe, 31, 

3 2 
Cytology, present study of, 64. 

See Cell. 
Cytoplasm, 66 

Darwin, 6, n, 24, 193-4, J 95 
Darwinism : a new view-point in 
respect of existing knowledge, 
6; the theory of Descent and 
Natural and Sexual Selection not 
mechanical but psychical, 11-16; 
Holism and, 190-232; the Dar- 
winian theory summarised, 194- 
6, 200-203; Variation, 194, 195, 
196, 198, 200-203, 226-7; Natural 
Selection, 194, 195-8, 200, 201, 
226-7, 228; the Neo-Darwinians, 
198-201, 202-1 1, 227, 229; co- 
ordination and co-adaptation of 
organs and characters not ex- 
plained by orthodox Darwinism, 
217-18; Holistic Selection and 
Natural Selection, 218-19, 220-28 
De Vries, 54, 64, 197, 202, 205 
Descartes, on the relations of mind 

and body, 168, 171, 177 
Descent : Darwin's theory of, 1 i- 
16, 194, 195 (See Darwinism) ; 
the operation of Radioactivity 
compared to that of Organic 
Descent, 53-4, 55 ; creative 
Evolution and, 137, 139 
Determinism, holistic, 317, 319, 320 
Development and Purpose (Hob- 
house), 256 

Diploid cells, generation of, 75 
Dissipation of energy, law of, and 
the relations of life and mind, 
170, 171, 172-7 



Doryaster : Introduction to Study 

of Cytology, 329 n. 
Double- contents cell, generation of, 

Driesch, Professor Hans, 179 

Ductless glands, holistic organs, 

150, 213 
Duration, Bergson's principle of, 

94~5> 96, 97, 102, 118 
Durkhen, experiments of, 2i6w. 
Duty, Personality and, 323 

Ecological modifications leading to 
variations, 216, 217, 219, 227, 
228, 247 

Ecology, science of, 227, 349, 352. 
See Environment. 

Einstein, 6, 7, 248-9; the new 
view-point of Relativity, 6 ; pub- 
lishes General Theory of Relativity, 
24 ; the theory capable of being 
put simply and intelligibly, 25-6 ; 
its mathematical origin, 23, 26-8 ; 
the Ten Equations, 26, 193; 
the old mechanics and the new, 
2^-33; motion never absolute, 
26-8 : the Special Theory of 
Relativity, 28 ; his application 
of the concept of the Space-Time 
continuum, 29-33, 34~5 > the 
illustration of the closed cage, 
29-30 ; the idea of the inertia of 
matter destroyed, 52; the sub- 
jective and objective in the 
, Space-Time synthesis, 34, 35 

Elan vital, 102 

Electro-magnetism, an instance of 
the selectiveness of matter, 169 

Electrons, 40, 41, 50, 122; and the 
nucleus, 40 ; combinations of 
protons and, 41 ; external pro- 
perties of the atom decided by 
number and grouping of, 44 

Elements, the, 42, 53; their nuclei, 
41; atomic numbers, 41-2; the 
Periodic Table, 42, 43, 53~4; 
their spontaneous breaking up 
in Radioactivity, 43, 53, 54 ; arti- 
ficial destruction and transmuta- 
tion of, 43-4, 53, 54; external 
properties the expression of in- 
ternal structure, 44-5 

Elimination of the unfit, 11-12, 13. 
See Natural Selection. 

Embryo : formation of, by cell- 
division, 63 ; phylogeny repeated 
in ontogeny, 75, 118 

Emergent Evolution (Morgan), 330 n. 

Ends, the realm of, 268 

Energy : the " field " of an object, 

17-18, 19, 115, 336-7; matter 
simply a form of, 32, 33, 42, 45, 
5 2 -3> 57. 335. 336, 337; intimate 
relation between structure and, 
4 2 -3. 45. 52, 56, 57. 336; potenti- 
ally available by artificial break- 
ing up of matter, 43 ; first func- 
tional in the cell, 65, 66, 68 ; 
holistic use and control of, 108, 
109, no; laws of, and principles 
of life and mind, 162, 170-78, 314 
Entelechy, theory of, 179-80, 184, 


Environment : a confused complex 
concept, 116; the organism in 
relation to, 119, 123, 144, 145, 
39, 349; Variation and, 212 n., 
216, 217, 219, 227-8; conscious- 
ness increases influence of, 247; 
mind as creator of, 260; social 
inheritance borne by, 260-61 ; 
Personality and, 309, 310-13 
Enzymes, action of, 47-8, 69-70 
Epistemology, Personality and, 286 
Equilibrium : of the atom, and its 
external properties, 44-5 ; in- 
stability and readjustment of 
fundamental structures of Nature, 
81, 181, 182; the same rhythm in 
the structure of life, 182, 183-4, 
185, 225, 244; persistent over- 
balance caused by Holism, 186-7, 
223, 243 ; tension and selective 
compensation as the source of 
mind, 2445 

Ether, hypothesis of, 17, 278, 332-3 
Ethics : individualism arid ethical 
problems, 250, 255 ; ethical char- 
acter of Personality, 303, 304, 307, 
308-9, 3I3-M. 320/321, 322, 

Euclidean geometry and the theory 
of Relativity, 26, 31 ; suitable to 
the Newtonian and Kantian con- 
ception of Space and Time, 33, 34 
Evolution, 2-3, 8-10, 22, 90-92, 148- 
9, 178, 225-6, 332, 334, 337, 340- 
41; Darwinism, 6, 11-16, 194-8, 
200-203, 226, 227; the 19th-cen- 
tury battle over, 89 ; the modern 
belief in Creative Evolution, and 
its implications, 9-11, 24, 91-2, 
136-43, 145 (See Creative Evolu- 
tion) ; mechanistic conceptions 
strengthened by Darwinism, n- 
16, 197-8; its tendency to 
hark back to simpler types, 55 ; 
the idea applicable to matter, 
57-8, 91-2; the position of the 
cell in, 65-6, 85; cell different!- 



ation and the divergence of 
plant and animal forms, 76-8, 81 ; 
creative Holism the motive force 
behind Evolution, 100, 101, 105, 
107-8, iio-n, 136-43, 145-7. 
149-51, 1 86, 225, 229-32, 239, 282, 

329. 330 . 332, 334. 335. 337; 
theory of organic mechanism and, 
122-4 ; the lower unit the basis of 
the next higher unit, 160-61, 177, 
182, 185, 186, 340; life and mind 
the two great saltus in, 161, 280; 
its persistent trend not accidental, 
185, 186, 187, 349, 351; Neo- 
Darwinian theories, 196, 198-200, 
202-212; the Germ-cell theory, 
196, 198, 202, 206-214; Mendel- 
ism, 202, 203-4; the Mutation 
theory, 202, 204-5; experimental 
Evolution and its limitations, 202, 
203-4, 208, 225-6; hybridisation 
and, 206 n. ; Holistic Selection in, 
220-24, 229; its negative aspect, 
224-5, 230-31; interaction of 
internal and external factors in, 
227-9 ; the place of mind in, 15-16, 
235, 237, 238-44, 257-8, 260 ; the 
psychic and the organic in, 239- 
41, 243, 244-7, 249-50, 252-3, 
258-62, 282-3; *t s advance 
towards individuality and Per- 
sonality, 241-2, 284, 285, 291, 
329; Naturalism and, 338-9; 
Monadology and, 341-3," Plural- 
ism and, 343-4 ; purposive view 
of, justifies no inference of a 
Supreme Mind, 350-51 

Evolution in the Light of Modern 
Knowledge (Bower), 216 n. 

Experience : interaction of matter, 
life, and mind confirmed by, 2, 3, 
162-3, l6 4; its plasticity and the 
rigidity of our concepts, 17-18, 21, 
24; the Space Time continuum 
of events in, 28-9, 34, 35 ; the 
Subject-Object relation in, 34-5, 
97, 247, 248, 285 ; Bergson on, 
94-5 ; the duality of the mind 
and, 247, 248, 249, 254, 255-60; 
scientific interpretation of, 256-7, 
259; influence of past on present, 
263; Personality as the Subject 
of, 286, 301 

Females, emotional sensitiveness of, 
implied by the principle of Sexual 
Selection, 13, 14, 231-2 

Ferments, action of, in protoplasm, 

48, 69 
Ferns, gametophytes of, 75, 76; 

modifications and variations* in, 
216 n. 
Fibro-vascular system of plants, 77, 


Fields, value of the concept of, 17, 
18, 113, 114-17, 336-7. 347- 8 ; 
applied to concepts, 17-19 ; things 
and their fields, 17-19, 22 n., 115, 
116-17, I2I-2, 336-7; the Space- 
Time continuum the field of the 
material universe, 32-3, 35, 117, 
336; the field and structure, 45, 
115-19, 199; colloidal surfaces as 
fields, 48 ; wholes and their fields, 
113, 115-120, 344, 347-8, 349; 
organisms and their fields, 115- 
120, 199; the field of the germ-cell, 
199, 212, 213, 215-17, 228; the 
field of mind, 237, 262-8; the 
field of Nature, 349, 35 1 * 352; 
group fields, 347-8 

Fitzgerald, experiments of, 27 

Force, doubtful validity of concept 
of, 167 ; laws of, and the prin- 
ciples of mind and body, 170-78 

Freedom : of the organic whole, 
145-7, 28 3, 3i3. 314, 3i5. 3i6, 
318; of the Personality, 146, 283, 
284, 285, 313, 314, 3*8-21, 323, 
324 ; of the mind, 259, 267-8 ; the 
rule of the universe, 316-17; not 
limited to the will, 316, 318, 319 

Function and structure, their rela- 
tion in wholes, 81, 106-7, 108, 109, 
no, 115, 118-19, 129-31, 170 

Future, the, an operative factor in 
the activity of the mind, 267-8 

Galileo, 26 

Gametes, the, 74, 75 

Gametophyte generation, the, 75-6 

Gases, result of internal equilibrium 
in the atoms and molecules, 45, 46 

General Theory of Relativity (Ein- 
stein), 24, 25 

Generalisation, the error of, 15, 20-21 

Genes, 54, 208, 229; struggle for 
existence assumed among, 210; 
"gene' 1 theory of Variation 
criticised, 229 . 

Genetics, 54, 64 ; theories of Varia- 
tion, 54, 202-214, 229 

Geological age measured by Radio- 
activity, 43 

Germ-cell theory of Variation, 196, 
198, 199, 202, 205-214, 229; the 
field of the germ-cell, 199, 212, 
215-17, 228; possible reciprocal 
influence of body-cells and germ- 
cells, 211, 212, 213-14, 228 



"Gestalt" psychology, 269 

Glfctathione, 73 

God : as the medium of the inter- 
action of body and mind, 279, 281 

Gold, transmutation of Mercury 
into, 43-4 

Gravitation : Relativity and, 26, 29- 
32, 193; Einstein's closed cage 
illustration, 29-30 ; acceleration 
and, equivalent expressions, 29-30, 
31; as the curved structure of 
the real Space-Time world, 32-3 ; 
Newton's Law of, 192-3 

Grew : study of plant cells, 63 

Guelincx, 281 

Habit and hereditary modifications 
leading to variations, 211, 212- 
13, 214-17 

Haemoglobin, 59 

Haldane, Professor, 148, 185 

Haploid cells, generation of, 75 

Harrison, Dr. J. W. H., 212 n. 

Hegel, 90 

Helium atom, the, 41, 43; Helium 
nuclei, 41 , 43 ; emission of Helium 
used as a geological clock, 43 ; 
transmutation of elements by ex- 
pulsion of Helium atoms, 43-4, 54 

Heredity, 64; the organism and 
its field, 115-20; Variation 
infinitesimal compared to, 149; 
inheritance of acquired characters, 
202, 209-10; inheritance of modi- 
fications, 202, 209, 2io-i i ; inherit- 
ance of mutations, 202, 205-6, 215 ; 
Mendelism, 203-4 ; the germ-cell 
theory and, 207-8, 209 ; chemical 
changes in environment and, 
212 w., 228; inheritance of ac- 
quired experience, 214^.; educa- 
bility and, in the human, 261, 283 ; 
the hereditary past in Personality, 
264, 282, 283; Holism and, 264, 
282, 283, 340 

Hobhouse, Professor L. T., 256 

Holism, loo-ioi, no, 12021, 124, 
155, 187-8; co-operation and co- 
ordination in cell activities, 79-86, 
99, 199, 223, 239, 329; the funda- 
mental whole-making tendency of 
the universe, 83, 85-6, 100-101, 
102, no, in, 150-51, 186, 188-9, 
316-17, 328-30, 334-5, 33 8 . 344. 
346, 353; its progressive phases, 
99-100, 107-110, 187-8,344; ideal 
wholes, 100, 108, 109, no, 151, 
231, 250, 252, 268, 303, 314, 320, 
321, 322, 3 2 3-5. 33#> 353; the 
motive power of creative Evolu- 

tion, 100, 101, 105, 107-8, no ii, 
i3-43. M5-7. M9-5I. 186, 225, 
229-32, 282, 329, 330 ., 332, 334, 
335. 337; a similar doctrine in St. 
Thomas Aquinas, 106 n. ; the 
source of all Values, 109, 151, 230, 
250, 252, 268, 314, 344, 353 ; crea- 
tiveness of, no, 135-43, 149-51, 
186-7, 188-9, 230, 231, 282, 313, 
314 ; value of the concept of, 1 10- 
T 3 I 55. 268, 269 ; bridges the gaps 
between matter, life, and mind, 
in-i2, 128, 165, 182-5, 186, 187, 
329-30; Science and, 112-13, 121, 

150, 155. 230, 257, 330-34; sug- 
gested substitution of notion of 
Holism for that of life, 112, 168; 
as a concept, a factor, and a 
theory, 120-21, 165; doctrine of 
Organic Mechanism and, 121-4; 
functions and categories of, 127- 
5 1 ; and the idea of causality, 

J 34-5. !4 2 -3 M4. 145-6. 3 r 4. 
315-16, 317; Freedom and, 145- 

7. 283, 313, 314, 315, 3 i6, 3 r 7 - 

23 ; inner co-ordination and self- 
regulation by, 78-85, 108, 148-50, 

151, 223-4, 229, 239-41, 242, 243, 
249, 251, 328-9; structural charac- 
ter of, 150-51, 160, 182-3, J 88; 
Mechanism and, 154-89, 30 [, 338 ; 
Personality the supreme ex- 
pression of, 158-9, 160, 225, 272-3, 
276, 282, 292, 293, 301, 302, 304, 

3.13. 317. 325- 329, 338; and 
life and its action on the body, 
18087; overbalance of equili- 
brium in all structures towards, 
185-7, 223; Darwinism aud, 192- 
232; Variation as explained by, 
199-200, 215, 218-24, 34. 35 1 ; 
Holistic Selection, 220-24, 
229; repressive aspect of, 224- 
5; spiritual aims of, 225, 231, 
346. 353 i mind as an organ 
and expression of, 231, 235-69, 
273, 301, 329, 334; individu- 
ality and universality, two ten- 
dencies of, 241, 242-4, 247, 249- 
50, 251, 252, 254-5, 328; develop- 
ment of attention and conscious- 
ness, 246 ; the Subject-Object 
relation in, 247, 248, 249, 302, 
304; holistic aspects of sub- 
conscious mind, 263-4, 2 &6, 288- 
9; the senses and, 264-5, 293; 
purpose and, 267-8; body and 
spirit reunited in, 275-6; and 
body-and-mind relation in Per- 
sonality, 276-82, 286, 288; itself 



the real actor in Personality, 280- 
85, 292, 308; self-realisation the 
aim of, 303, 323-5; will and, 
304; the ideal of Purity and, 312- 
13, 321, 323-4; moral discipline 
in scheme of, 322, 323; the 
holistic universe, 328-53 ; un- 
verifiable, 330-31, 333-4; Spirit- 
ualism and, 339-40, 341-2, 343-5 ; 
Monadology and, 3413, 344; 
Pluralism and, 343, 344 ; the 
Supreme Whole in, 347, 349-50, 

351, 352 

Holistic Selection, 220-24, 229 
Hooke, Robert, 63 
Hormones, functions of, 213-14 
Hybridisation, 226 ; Evolution and, 

206 n. 
Hydrogen atom, the, 41, 42-3 

Ideal Man, the, 321-2 

Idealism, a denial of creative Evolu- 
tion, 339-4* 34 !> 343> 34^, 35 1 

Ideals, Holistic, 100, 108-9, IIO 
123, 151, 231, 250, 268, 303, 314, 
320, 321, 322, 323-5. 338, 353 

Immortality, early Christian con- 
troversy on, 165 

Individual, the, and the race, 
differentiation of development of, 
207-8, 209-10, 212 

Individuality : fundamental in 
Nature, 84 ; mind and the holistic 
process of individuation, 147, 
241-3, 247-9; consummated in 
the human Personality, 242, 250, 
254-5, 283-4, 285, 286, 287-8, 
293-4, 2 9** ; in its higher develop- 
ments, 249-55; the individual 
and his social environment, 254, 
260, 261, 348, 351 ; the individual- 
ist mind and the universal mind, 
254-5 ; memory as the basic 
bond of individuality, 263 ; the 
study of the individual Person- 
ality in biography, 293-8 

Inert elements, and internal equili- 
brium of the atom, 44, 45 

Inorganic, the : vanishing fixity of 
inorganic elements, 24-5 ; its 
conversion into organic at col- 
loidal surfaces, 48, 59; chemical 
combination and structure in 
inorganic chemistry, 48-9; the 
cell the real distinction between 
organic and, 65 

Instinct : in Bergson's philosophy, 
96 ; and the development of 
mind, 246 

Intellect, the : in Bergson's philo- 

sophy, 95-6, 97, 114; effect f of 
its selectiveness, 1 14-15 ; develop- 
ment of, 303-4 

" Intro-action " of body and mind, 

Intuition, in Bergson's philosophy, 

Inverse Square, Newton's law of 
Gravitation, 193 

Iodine, its effect on the thyroid 
gland, 288 

Isomerism, 39 

Judgment, synthetic, 268 

Kammerer, 216 n. 

Kant : his conception of Space and 
Time, 33-4, 96; on the creative 
action of the mind, 34; and 
the Newtonian system, 193 ; 
his realm of Ends, 268 ; his " syn- 
thetic unity of apperception," 
268-9, 280 ; man a legislative 
being, 305 ; the concept of Neces- 
sity, 317; no inference of God 
justified from the facts of Nature, 


Keats, 344 
Kolbe, Mgr. F. C., 106 n. 

Lamarck, reaction towards, 196 
Language, a social instrument, 254, 


League of Nations, the, 353 
Leibniz, 22 w. ; pre-established har- 
mony of, 35, 91, 279, 281, 342,343; 
his reply to Descartes, 171, 175; 
Holism and the Monadology of, 

34!~3, 347~ 8 

Life : apparent separateness of life, 
mind, and matter not founded 
in fact, 2, 3, 22, 51 ; new concept 
of, needed, 3, 4, 5 ; mechanistic 
view of , 4, 12, 112, 113, 162, 187- 
8; thought and, 4, 164; vague- 
ness of present concept of, 5, 16, 
IH-T2, 127, 165-6; its develop- 
ment from matter, 7-8, lo-n, 
182-4; life an d mind true opera- 
tive factors in Evolution, 16, 333- 
4, 341 ; chemical structure of its 
mechanism, 49; in the cell, on 
its way to mind, 67, 78 ; electrical 
energy of sun and the origin of, 
72, 73 ; character of wholeness in, 
78-86, 100; overflow of life, mind, 
and matter into each other's 
domain, 89, 99-100, in, 236, 237, 
279 ; the gaps between life, mind, 
and matter bridged by Holism, 


|ii-i2, 128, 165, 182-5, *86, 187, 
329-30 ; the concept of the whole 
preferable to that of, 112-13, 
168 ; degrees of Freedom in, 146- 
7; the laws of thermodynamics 
and the principles of life and mind, 
162, 170-78; development of 
mind from, 158-9, 161, 185, 186, 
187, 240-43, 244-7; life and mind 
not independent entities, 164-6, 
177-8; the Vitalistic hypothesis 
criticised, 166-8, 179-80, 184; 
power of selection and self-direc- 
tion in, 66, 169-71, 172, 174-5, 
178-9, 184-5, 245, 246, 258 ; unity 
and interaction of life and mind, 
177-8; the theory of Entelechy 
and, 179-80, 184; life and its 
action on the body, Holism and, 
180-87 ; a new structure based on 
those of the physico-chemical 
order, 182-4, 186, 187, 188, 239, 
343 ; the rhythmic equilibrium in, 
182, 183-7; Goethe on its pur- 
pose, 324; Naturalism and, 338 

Light : its velocity, and the principle 
of Relativity, 28; the curvation 
of, 31 ; accounted for by quanta 
of radiation released by electrons, 
40-41 ; light effects as basis of 
theory of atomic structure, 50-51 

Liquids : and internal equilibrium 
of the molecule, 45-6 ; molecular 
structure of, 46, 65 

Lorentz, experiments of, 27 

Lotsy, Prof. J. P., 206 n. 

Males, the operation of Sexual 
Selection limited to, 13 

Malpighi, 62 

Man : a psycho-physical whole, 
159; his mind and his environ- 
ment, 260-61 ; the role of struc- 
ture not very prominent in, 
261-2; hereditary past in mind 
of, 264, 283; heredity and 
educability in, 283; "a legis- 
lative being," 305; the Ideal 
Man, 321-3; Naturalistic view 
of, 338 

Materialism, its unjustified infer- 
ences, 8, 10, 15, 122 ; its struggle 
with Spiritualism over Evolution, 
8-9, ii 

Matter : apparent separateness of 
matter, life and mind, not founded 
in fact, 2, 3, 22, 51 ; new concept 
of, needed, 3, 4-5, 10, n, 16, 51- 
3> 57> 5 8 02 9 8 > thought and, 
4 ; development of life and mind 

from, 7-8, lo-n, 52, 53, 54-5, 
56, 58, 59, 182-4; 19th-century 
materialism, 8, 9; Evolution 
and the new concept of, 10-11, 
24 ; its field the structure of the 
Space-Time universe, 32-3, 35, 
45. IJ 7 336; a form of Energy or 
Action, 32, 33, 42, 45, 52-3, 57, 335, 
33 6 > 337; recent advances in the 
knowledge of its constitution, 38- 
51, 97, 170; structural character 
of, 38, 39. 45-6, 52, 56, 57, 97, 169, 
1 80-8 1, 239, 240, 340; the proton 
possibly the fundamental form 
of, 42; artificial breaking up of, 
greatest potential source of energy, 
43 ; internal structure and external 
properties of, 45-6, 115; its 
behaviour in the colloid state, 
46-8, 58-9, 169; selectiveness of, 
48, 58, 169-70, 244; creativeness 
of, 56-9, 91-2,98-9, 135-6; in the 
cell, 64, 65 ; overflow of matter, 
mind, and life into each other's do- 
main, 87,99-100, 111,236,237,279 ; 
Holism and the disappearance of 
the gulf between life, mind, and 
matter, 111-12, 128, 165, 182-4, 
185-7; life a complex structure 
of, 182-4, l8 . 187, 239, 343 ; spirit 
and, Spinozist position, 330 ., 343 

Mechanical system, holistic system 
distinguished from, 106, 132-3, 
134-5, 140, 148, 314 

Mechanics, 26; the new system of 
Relativity, 26-35 

Mechanism, 156, 159-60; invades 
the domain of life, 4, 5, 12, 112; 
biology and, 4, 5, n, 102-3, 112, 
11617, 128; the system shaken 
by the concept of creative Evolu- 
tion, lo-ii, 140-42; strengthened 
by a misconception of Darwinism, 
11-16, 197, 198; its recent 
domination of science, 91, 102-3, 
105, 106, 331, 333-4; wholes not 
mechanical systems, 106, 133, 
134-5. I4L I4 8 3M: organic, 
doctrine of, 121-4; Holism and, 
123-4, 154-89; the concept of 
Holism transforms and transcends 
the mechanistic system, 123-4, 
154, 155-9, 187-9; man and, 159; 
an early phase of Holism, 160, 
l8 7. 338 I inadequate for modern 
physiology, 185; its view of 
Variation arbitrary and mislead- 
ing, 198-200, 218, 223-4, 229-30; 
unable to cope with Personality, 



Melanism in moths, 212 n. 

Memory, 263; associative, 214 . ; 
hereditary, 264 

Mendel, Abbot, 203 

Mendelism, 64 ; its theory of Vari- 
ation, 202, 203-4, 212 n. 

Mercury, its possible transmutation 
into Gold, 43-4 

Metabolism, the process of, 68, 79, 
103, 136, 173, 199, 309; the 
same power necessary to the 
Personality, 310-13 

Metaphysics, Holism and, 269 

Mice, associative memory in, 214 n. 

Michelson-Morley experiments, 28 

Milton, 297 

Mind: apparent separateness of 
mind, life, and matter not founded 
in fact, 2, 3, 22, 51 ; new concept 
of, needed, 4-5, 10, u, 16; general 
acceptance of physical basis of, 
7-8, lo-n; life and mind, true 
operative factors in Evolution, 
15-16, 235, 237, 238-44, 257-8, 
260, 333-4, 341 ; mind and the 
Space-Time universe, 34, 263; 
Kant on, 33-4 ; creativeness of, 
34> 92, 255, 259-61, 345; life 
in the cell on its way to, 67, 
78; its development in animals, 
78; the overflow of mind, life, 
and matter into each other's 
domain, 89, 99-100, in, 236, 237, 
279; structure and, 96, 97, 261, 
262 ; gaps between mind, life, 
and matter bridged by Holism, 
iu-12, 128, 165, 182-5, 186, 187, 
329-30; in doctrine of organic 
mechanism, 122 ; its development 
from life, 158-9, 161, 185, 186, 187, 
240-43, 244-7 * ne closed system 
of physical science and, 162, 163, 
1 68 ; life and mind not indepen- 
dent entities, 164-6, 177-8; the 
laws of thermodynamics and the 
principles of life and mind, 162, 
1 70-78 ; power of self -direction 
in, 169, 170-72, 174-5, 176, 178, 
259-61, 279; unity and inter- 
action of life and mind, 177-8; 
the theory of Entelechy and, 
179-80, 184; psychology and, 
236, 2 37; tne fi 6 ^ of, 237, 262-8; 
Personality and, 238, 242, 244, 
273. 276-82, 286, 288; crude as 
compared with organic co-ordina- 
tion and self -regulation, 240; 
lines of advance of its evolution, 
240-44; as an organ and ex- 
pression of Holism, 231, 235-69, 

2 73. 3 OI 329, 334; individuatifm 
and, 147, 242, 243-4, 250, 253-5, 
257; organisation and central con- 
trol of, 242, 243, 257, 259, 301 ; 
development of attention and 
consciousness, 245, 246, 249, 250; 
duality of, the Subject-Object re- 
lation, 247-9 ; mind and body not 
independent, 248, 276-82, 286, 
288 ; as a rebel against univers- 
ality, 250, 253, 255, 257; Reason 
and, 252, 253, 256-7; the Self 
conquered by, 253-5 Science 
the proudest achievement of, 
2567, 258, 259; its enrichment 
of the universe, 257-60; and its 
environment, 260; the sub-con- 
scious mind, 263-4, 266, 288-9; 
influence of the past on, 263-4, 
266, 345 ; the senses and, 264-6 ; 
telepathy and, 266 ; influence 
of the future on, 267-8 ; purpose 
the highest manifestation of its 
activity, 267-8 ; body and mind 
in Personality, 276-80, 286, 288 ; 
Naturalistic view of, 338 ; the 
assumption of a Supreme Mind, 


Minkowski, 28, 29 
Misplaced concreteness, fallacy of, 

22W., 121 

Modifications: in theory of organic 
mechanism, 122-3 ; Darwin's the- 
ory of, 200, 201 ; inheritance of, 
negatived by Weismann, 202, 209, 
210-11; possibly the conditions 
precedent to Variation, 211, 212- 
14, 215, 216, 221, 228 

Mohl, von, 63 

Molecule, the, 38, 160; importance 
of the placing and spacing of its 
atoms, 38 ; combination of atoms 
into molecules rests on unstable 
internal equilibrium, 44, 45 ; mole- 
cular structure of liquids, 46, 65 ; 
lattice pattern in crystal structure, 
46 ; in the colloid state, 47 ; in 
theory of organic mechanism, 

Monadology, 22 n. ; Holism and, 

341-3. 344 
Monistic conception of the universe 

furthered by Holism, 1 1 1 
Moral character and the influence 

of Holism, 308-9, 322, 323 
Morgan, Professor Lloyd, 330 n. 
Morgan, T. H., 206 n., 229 n. 
Morley and Michelson, experiments 

of, 28 
Motion : Newton's laws, 26 ; the 



^Einstein theory, 26-35 ; never 
absolute, 26, 28; stationariness 
an illusion, 27-8 ; the co- variation 
*of Space and Time, 27-31; the 
Space-Time continuum applied 
to, 29-31, 32 

Multicellular organisms : reproduc- 
tion by cell fusion, 74, 75 ; repro- 
duction by reduction division, 
74-5, 76 ; formation of the earliest, 

Mutations : De Vries' theory of, 
54, 202, 205, 206; of matter to 
life, 58 ; Darwin's theory of, 200, 
201; exceptional, 205, 227; of 
body to mind, 279-80 

Natural Science reunited with 
psychology, 249 

Natural Selection : erroneous 
mechanical view of, 11-12, 14- 
I5 19* 197, 198; fundamentally 
psychical, 14-15, 231-2, 322; 
Darwin's theory of, 194, 195-6, 
197-8, 200, 201-2, 215, 228; co- 
operation between Variation and, 
200-202, 219-25; operative 
within the germ-cell, 210 ; 
of small variations, 214-17, 219- 
23; Holistic Selection and, 215, 
218-25; its limitations, 223-4; 
co-operative and helpful rather 
than murderous, 227, 229 

Naturalism : and the principles 
of life and mind, 161-2, 163, 164- 

5, 176-7, 179; Holism and, 337- 
8, 339, 340; irreconcilable with 
creative Evolution, 338-9, 341, 


Nature : errors in the observation 
of, 1921 ; new view of, 245, 
275; her high-speed internal 
energies, 52; the concept of 
Holism and the explanation of, 
97-9, 100, in, 138-43. 231, 35i"2 ; 
mind and, 98, 99, 163, 238, 345, 
350, 351 ; wholes as the real units 
of, 101, 102, 104, 113; value of the 
Space-Time integration to the 
understanding of, 114, 129, 181; 
fields in, 114, 115-16, 348-9; 
the concept of creativeness and, 
138-9, 140, 140-42; the closed 
system of physical science, 162- 
3 ; life a new structure of her 
holistic physico-chemical struc- 
tures, 182-4, l86 l8 7 l88 2 39. 
343 ; warfare not the rule in, 227, 
229 ; the emotional appeal of, 345- 

6, 349, 352 ; holistic, not a whole, 

349* 35 1 , 352 ; teleological view of, 
349-51 ; the holistic Field of, 351, 
352 ; the inference of a Supreme 
Mind behind, 349-51, 332 

Necessity : in the closed system of 
physical science, 162 ; the limi- 
tations of its power over wholes, 
314-15; the concept not grounded 
in reality, 317 

Neo-Darwinians and the theory of 
Variation, 198-200, 202-214 

Newton, 7, 26, 33, 171, 193, 194; 
his First JLaw and the inertia 
of matter, 3}, 52; his conception 
of Space and Time, 33, 34, 35 ; his 
Law of Gravitation, 192-3 

Nitrogen atom split up by Ruther- 
ford, 44 

Nomenclature, reforms needed in 
scientific and philosophical, 6 

Nucleus, the : of the atom, 40, 41, 
4 2 > 43' 5 spontaneous breaking 
up in Radioactivity, 43 ; of 
cell, 63, 66; its part in heredity, 
64; in cell-division, 71-2, 74 

Object, relation of Subject and, 

Objects : their fields, 17, 18-19, 
22 ;/., 115, 116-17, I2I-2, 336-7; 
regarded as events in Space-Time, 
113-14; misinterpreted by our 
intellect and senses, 114-15 

Ontogeny repeats phylogeny, 75, 

Organic and inorganic : vanished 
fixity of, 25 ; the colloidal surface 
as the bridge between, 48, 59 ; 
different structure of organic and 
inorganic compounds, 489, 65 ; 
the cell the real distinction 
between, 65-6 

Organic Descent : its operation 
compared to that of Radio- 
activity, 53-4, 55. See Descent. 

Organic Mechanibin, doctrine of, 
and Holism, 121-4 

Organisms : power of regeneration 
possessed by, 81-2, 308 ; as typical 
wholes, 84-6, 99, 100, 103, 106-7, 
112-13, 122-4, I2 9~32, 135, 218, 
222-4, 277, 280; relations of the 
parts and the whole in, 83-5, 99- 
100, 103, 106-7, I0 9 I 3 I - 2 > 1 34~5> 
149, 218-19; inner co-ordination 
and self -regulation of, 99, 100, 
109, 147-51, 166, 169-70,185, 218, 
219, 223-4, 225, 229, 239-41, 243; 
their fields, 115-20, 199; time 
factor in development and explan- 



ation of, 117-18, 219; transform- 
ation of a stimulus into free action 
by 135, 143,315-16; creativeness 
of wholes as seen in, 136-9, 140- 
43, 144-5 ; and their environment, 
119, 123, 144, 145, 219, 247, 309, 
349 ; Vitalism and, 166-8; selec- 
tiveness the fundamental property 
of, 169, 170; the freedom of, 170, 
314,315,316; the laws of thermo- 
dynamics and the principles of 
life and mind in, 170-78; varia- 
tions in, 217-18, 219-20 (See 
Variation) ; holistic repression of 
variations in, 224-5; individu- 
ality of, 241, 242, 251; develop- 
ment of mind in, 244-7 material 
objective of, 303 ; treated as 
synthetic units, 329; organic 
situations distinguished from, 349 

Organs, holistic, 150 

Origin of Species (Darwin), 24, 


Osmosis, 66, 69, 78 
Oxygen in the vital processes, 73 

Pangenesis, Darwin's theory of, 196 
Panpsychism and creative Evolu- 
tion, 343-4 
Past, the, in the activities of mind, 

263-4, 266, 345 
Pavlov, Professor, 214 n. 
" Peraction," suggested term for 

body-and-mind relation, 279 
Periodic Law, the, 39 
Periodic Table, the, 42, 44, 55, 56 
Persona in Roman law, 291-2 
Personality, the, 22, 123, 124; the 
supreme embodiment of Holism, 
108, 109, 147, 159, 160, 242, 255, 
272-3, 285, 286, 292, 301, 302, 
3 r 3 3 X 7> 3 2 9; repressive activity 
of Holism and, 224-5 ; mind and 
the development of, 238, 242, 244, 
273, 276-82, 286, 288 ; Purpose a 
function of, 244, 249, 250, 268, 
305 ; an apparent deviation from 
the main plan of Holism, 250; 
its present imperfection, 250, 
255, 36, 308, 318-19; its basis 
universal, 254-5, 272-3; the 
hereditary past and, 264, 282, 
283, 284, 285; as a whole, 272- 
98; the body and, 273-5, 288, 
289; body and spirit in, 273-6; 
body and mind in, 276-80, 281, 
282, 286; its own creative 
holistic activity, 280-82, 293, 301, 
308, 313; its individuality, 283- 
4, 287-8, 293-4; constant and 

progressive, 284-5; as the Sub- 
ject of experience, 286-7 ; psycho- 
logy and, 286, 287, 288-91, 302; 
the subconscious mind and, 28$'- 
89, 305-6; the need for a science 
of, 290-91, 293-8,302-3; evolu- 
tion of the idea of, 291-2 ; value 
of biography to the study of, 
293-8, 303 ; functions and ideals 
of, 301-25; an organ of selt- 
realisation, 302, 303, 304, 324-5 ; 
ethical ideals of, 303, 304, 307, 
38-9, 3 12 , 3 J 4> 320, 321, 322, 
323-5; the will and, 303, 304, 
307* 318; the intelligence and, 
33~4I inner control and direc- 
tion of, 305-8, 309, 319; self- 
healing power of, 308-9; en- 
vironment and, 309, 310-13; 
purity or wholeness of, 312-13, 
314, 321-4; freedom of, 313, 
318-21, 324, 325; and the idea 
of a Supreme Whole, 350 

Personology, the science of Per- 
sonality, 291, 293-8, 302-3 

Phado (Plato), 104 

Philosophy, 92, 93, 306; its co- 
operation with science ensured 
by acceptance of creative Evolu- 
tion, 92-4; the idea of the whole 
neglected by, 102-3, I2 8; " the 
whole " in absolutism, 102, 104-5 ; 
the concept of the whole more pre- 
cise than that of life in, 112-13; 
Holism and the old concepts of, 
155; and the relations of body 
and mind, 163, 278; Personality 
in, 286, 287 

Photo-synthesis in plants, 69, 70, 

72, 77- 78 

Phylogeny repeated in ontogeny, 
75, 118 

Physical mixtures and chemical 
compounds, analogies from, 130- 
31, 134, 136, 140-41, 142 

Physical science : new concept of 
matter in, 3, 5, 52; recent 
progress in, 5, 7; the general 
acceptance of Evolution and, 1 1 ; 
and the relations of life and mind, 
16, 161-2, 163, 164, 170-78; the 
error of abstraction in, 20-21 ; the 
doubtful validity of the concept 
of force in, 167; Holism and the 
Naturalism of, 337-40 

Physico-chemical mechanisms, 157, 
164, 180-81; Vitalistic hypothesis 
of, 166-7; structural equilibrium 
in, 180-82, 183-4; inner holistic- 
character of, 182; the material 



^of the new structure of life, 
'* 182-4 

Physics, the New, 38, 336; dis- 
coveries as to the constitution of 
matter, 38, 39-42, 335-6; assimi- 
lates chemical categories to 
physical, 48-9, 157; associates 
energy and mass, 171-2 
Physiology: and Mechanism, 159; 
new categories demanded by, 
185 ; and Personality, 288 
Planck, Max, 40 

Plants: the plant cell, 63, 66-70; 
the origin of the cell, 71-7; the 
process of reproduction similar 
to that of animals, 71, 72, 74; 
common origin of animals and, 76- 
7; causes of divergence of plant 
and animal forms, 77-8 ; holistic 
co-operation and co-ordination 
in, 79-80, 83-4, 108, 109, 239, 
240; regenerative power of, 81, 
82 ; ecological modifications and 
Variation in, 216 
Plato, 104 

Pleurococcus, cell aggregation in, 77 
Potentiality and organic creative- 
ness, 139 
Pre-established harmony, 35, 91, 

229, 279, 281, 342, 343 
Proton, the, 41, 42 
Protoplasm, 47, 55, 63, 66, 114; 
enzyme action in, 47, 48, 69 ; its 
movement in the cell, 66; always 
in a process of creative change, 
67-8 ; its formation of new proto- 
plasm, 68 ; metabolism of, 68, 69 ; 
possible origin of its primitive 
forms, 73 
Psychical nature of Natural and 

Sexual Selection, 13-14, 231-2 
Psychological Principles (Ward), 

289-90, 291 

Psychology, 121, 248,253,287; its 
methods, 236, 237, 287-9; the 
standpoint of Relativity essential 
to, 248, 249; natural science 
reunited with, 249; and the 
syntheses of Reason, 253; the 
services of Holism to, 268-9; 
and the Personality, 286, 287, 
288-91, 302 

Psycho-physical wholes, 161, 175, 
176-7; the theory of Entelechy 
and, 179-80 
Purity, an ideal of the Personality, 

312-13, 314, 321-4 
Purpose : purposiveness distinctive 
of wholes, 147; a function of 
Personality, 244, 249, 250, 267-8, 

305; the highest manifestation 
of mind, 267-8; the purposive 
view of Evolution, 349-50, 351 

Quantum, the, 40, 42, 124; quanta 
of radiation released by electrons, 
40-41, 50; discontinuity of the 
quanta, 41, 340; supremacy of 
the quantum law, 52-3 

Racial and individual development, 
differentiation of, 2078, 20911, 

Radioactivity, 24, 38, 39; a spon- 
taneous breaking up of matter, 
43 ; and the transmutation of 
elements, 43-4, 53, 54 ; its 
operation compared to that of 
Organic Descent, 53-4, 55 

Radium converted into Lead, 43 

Reality, 4 ; its nature obscured by 
the analytical character of 
thought, 15, 19-20, 114; the sen- 
sible order and the conceptual 
order, 50-51, 94, 113-14; the old 
static view of, 90, 91; creative 
Evolution and, 91, 94, 121, 122, 
139-40; not explained by Berg- 
son's Duration, 94, 95, 96 ; Holism 
and the evolution of, 109, 1 10-1 1, 
120, 123, 149-51, 230; Relativity 
and, 113-14, 117, 129, 335; form- 
ula for its fundamental problems, 
154, 156; individuation and, 
248, 249, 251, 255; Reason and, 
252; our sense of, and a sixth 
holistic sense, 265 ; Personality 
and, 272, 282, 286 

Reason, 252-3; creative of values, 
92, 252 

Reflexes and the development of 
mind, 246, 258 

Regeneration, organic, 81-2 

Relativity, theory of, 6, 24. 25-6; 
its mathematical origin, 26-8 ; 
gravitation in, 26, 29-30, 31-33, 
193 ; the Space-Tim^ universe, 
29-33. 34-5. 335. 336; its subjec- 
tive and objective aspects, 34-5 ; 
value of the Space-Time inte- 
gration to our understanding 
of Nature, 113-14, 117, 129, 335; 
psychology and, 248 

Reproduction, the process of : 
similar in plants and animals, 71, 
72-5; cell-division, 71-2, 73-4; 
cell fusion, 74 ; reduction division, 
earlier than the separation of 
plant and animal forms, 74-5, 
76-7 ; its holistic nature, 83 ; and 



the germ-cell theory of Variation, 

206-7, 209 
Rock-formations, measurement of 

age of, 43 
Roman law, concept of personality 

in, 291-2 
Rontgen, 40 
Roux, Wilhelm, 197 
Rutherford, Sir Ernest, 40, 44 

Saltus, creative leaps in Evolution, 
161, 205, 280 

Sartor Resartus (Carlyle), 295 

Scheiden, 63 

Schwann, 63 

Science, 122, 256, 287; rigidity of its 
former concepts, 9, 16-17 ; linked 
with philosophy by creative 
Evolution, 92-4, 155 ; mechan- 
istic outlook of, 93, 102, 103, 105, 
122, 1 60, 331, 333; its neglect of 
the idea of the whole, 102, 103, 
121, 331 ; Holism in relation to, 
112-13, 150, 155, 167-8, 230, 257, 
330-34 ; its mistaken view of life 
and mind as separate entities from 
the body, 162, 163, 164-5, 168, 
333-4 ; the system of Science the 
greatest achievement of mind, 
256-7, 258, 259; the body re- 
habilitated by, 275 

Science and the Modern Woyld 
(Whitchead), 22 >i., 121 n. 

Selectiveness : of matter, 48, 58-9, 
169, 244; of life, 66, 80, 169-71, 
173, 174-5. 178-9, 184-5, 244, 246. 
258; of intellect, in Bergson's 
philosophy, 95-6, 114-15; in- 
herently holistic, 170, 351; the 
tap-root of will, 169, 170; of 
mind, 174, 175, 178 

Self, the, 301 ; as the centre of 
experience, 247, 249, 252, 254-5, 
301-2 ; an apparent rebel against 
the universal order, 250, 253, 255 ; 
as the centre of the higher order 
of Holism, 252, 302; largely a 
social construction, 253-4, 2 55- 
See Personality. 

Self-determination, the true ideal 
of human development, 318, 320 

Self-direction in life and mind, 170, 
171-2, 174-5, 178, 184-5, 259-61, 

Senses, the : their limitations and 
defects, 114-15; holistic char- 
acter of, 264-5, 2 93J mind and, 

Sexual Selection : Darwinian theory 
of, 12-13; its operation limited 

to males, 13 ; emotional sensitive- 
ness of females implied by, 13-13, 
231-2; psychical nature of, ift 
14, 231-2 

Shakespeare, his hidden Personality, 

Simple location, error of, 22 n., 121 

Single-content cell, generation of, 

Society: holistic, 109, 353; crea- 
tion of, by mind, 260, 261 ; Per- 
sonality and, 305 ; group fields 
and, 348-9, 351 

Socrates, 238 

Solids, internal structure of, 46 

Soul, the : 19th-century material- 
ism and, 8, 9; as a whole, 104; 
mistaken physical analogies of, 
165; relations of body and, 168, 
273, 274-6; Personality and, 
273, 274-6, 307; and the ideals 
of Holism, 321, 323, 324, 325, 
344-5, 346-7; the universe not 
a Society of Souls, 344-5, 346, 
350 ; environment and, 345-6 

Space : in the theory of Relativity, 
278, 2933, 34~5 '> as conceived 
by Newton and Kant, 335, 96 

Space-Time universe, the, 28-33, 
39, 42, 122, 181, 335, 336; things 
as events in Space Time, 22 n., 
113-14, 121 ; value of the concept 
to our understanding of Nature, 
114, 117, 122, 129, 181 

Special '1 keory of Relativity (Ein- 
stein), 27-8 

Spectrum analysis, 40, 41 

Spencer, Herbert, 196, 211 

Spinoza, 121, 269, 281, 330 n., 343 

Spirit, the : spiritual ideals of 
Holism, 101, 109, no, 151, 

J 59. 2 3 r > 2 49. 2 5 2 5 X 2 5 2 
spiritual structure of man, 159; 
materialist misconceptions of the 
spiritual, 165; the trend of 
Evolution towards, 185-6; rela- 
tions of body and, 273, 275-6; 
Personality best studied in 
spiritual life, 295-7; spiritual 
objective of Personality, 303, 308, 


Spiritual idealism (Spiritualism) : 
its battle with materialism over 
Evolution, 8-9 ; life and mind in, 
176, 177; irreconcilable with 
creative Evolution, 339-40, 341, 
342-5, 346, 352 

Sporophyte generation, the, 75, 76 
Sports, biological, and Personality, 



State, the, a super-individual whole, 

M>O, 109 

Stricture: structural character of 
me universe, 25, 32-3, 35, 38, 45, 
239332,336; of matter, 38-43, 
44-5, 52, 56, 57, 97, 169, 180-81, 
239, 240, 340 ; relations of energy 
and, 42, 45, 52, 56, 57, 336; in- 
ternal structure and external 
properties, 44-6, 115, 181, 183-4; 
dynamic self-controlled equilib- 
rium of, 44-6, 81, 1 80-8 T, 183-7, 
244; organic, 65, 116, 117, 177, 
185; modern science and the 
study of, 92-3 ; and the process 
of creative Evolution, 93, 94, 137- 
8, 141-3, 151, 176-7, 185-7, 239, 
332; mind and, 96, 97, 261, 262 ; 
intellect and experience and, 97; 
functions and structure in wholes, 
106-7, IQ 8, I( >9, 11, 115, 118- 
19, 129-31, 160-61, 170; holistic 
character of, 107, 108, 109, no, 
in, 129, 130-31, 134, 160, 182, 
183, 185-7, 241; the field and, 
115-19, 199; life a new structure 
based on the physico-chemical 
structures of Nature, 182-4, I ^6, 
187, 1 88, 239, 343 ; mind as a new 
departure in, 186, 188, 238, 240, 
244-5, 262 ; distinction between 
Mechanism and, 187-8; heredi- 
tary, less important in the human 
than the animal, 261, 262; unit 
character of, 340 

Struggle for existence, the, 11-12, 
13, 14-15, 194. 195-6, J 97> 214, 

. 215; the exception, not the rule, 
227, 229 

Subconscious mind, the, 262-4; in 
the Personality, 288-9, 305 

Subject-Object relation, the, 247-9 

Substance, divine, Spinoza's, 121, 
279, 281 

Sunlight and its action upon chloro- 
phyll, 48, 59, 69, 72, 78 

Survival of the fittest, law of, 11-12, 

13, I5> i94> 195-6, 197 
Synthetic unity of wholes, the, 131-2, 

133. 134-5, 136, 137, 138 

Teleological view of the universe, 
349-50, 351. See Purpose. 

Telepathy, 266 

Thermodynamics, laws of, 162; and 
the principles of life and mind, 
i 70-78 

Things and their fields, 17-19, 22 ., 
115, 116-17, 121-2, 336-7J as 
events in Space-Time, 22 #., 113- 

14, 121 ; misinterpreted by the 
senses, 114-15; Professor White- 
head on, 22 n., 121-2. 

Thomson, Sir J. J., 40 

Thorium, its conversion into 
Radium, 43 

Thought : baffled by misconcep- 
tions of life, mind, and matter, 
2, 3, 4, 164, 165-6; value of the 
idea of fields, 1719, 32; errors 
due to analytical character of, 
20, 29 ; creativeness of, 92 ; 
deductive and inductive, 136; 
structural character of, 188; 
a social instrument, 254; tele- 
pathy and, 266 

Time : in the theory of Relativity, 
27, 28, 29-33, 34. 35; as con- 
ceived by Newton and Kant, 33- 
5,96; and Bergson's principle of 
Duration, 95 ; the Time factor in 
the field of mind, 263. See Space - 
Time universe. 

Transmutation of elements, 43-4, 

53> 54 

Treviranus, 63 
Tropisms, 245, 246, 258 

Unicellular organisms, reproduction 
of, 71-72, 74, 76-7 

Unity : of structure and functions in 
the whole, 86, 129-33, J 34~5. 
150, 170; Holism the tendency 
towards, 22, 186, 189, 229, 24.1 

Universality and individuation, two 
tendencies of Holism, 247, 249, 
250, 251; Reason the organ of 
universality, 252-3 

Universe, the : its structural char- 
acter, 25, 32-3, 35, 38, 45, 239, 332, 
336 ; stationariness in, an illusion, 
27-8, 32 ; the Space-Time uni- 
verse, 28-33, 39, 42, 113, 117, 129, 
J 8i, 335. 336; Action its inmost 
nature, 33, 42, 45, 52-3, 57, 335, 
336, 337 ; its creativeness, 56-8, 
91, 140; Holism fundamental in, 
83, 85-6, 100-101, 102, no, in, 
122, 124, 150-51, 186, 188-9, 3 IO ~ 

17. 328-30. 334-5. 338, 344. 34 6 , 
353 ; two contrasted explanations 
of, 9092 ; mechanistic view of, 
91, 102-3, 105. 1 06, 331, 333-4: 
Bergson on Duration as its crea- 
tive principle, 94-5; absolutist 
view of, 102, 104-5; its friendli- 
ness, 227, 229, 352; the value of 
mind to, 257-60; transformed by 
Personality, 286-7, 329; Freedom 
the rule of, 316-17; Naturalistic 


view of, 338-9; Idealist view of, 
339-40, 346; monadic view of, 
342, 347 ; Ideological view of, 349, 
^5. 35 1 35 2 ; the assumption 
ol 9. Supreme Mind in, 349-51; 
possibly a whole in the making, 

Uranium, 42; its conversion into 

Radium, 43 
Use and routine, and modifications 

and variations, 211, 213, 215-17, 

221, 228 

Values, or creative Ideals of Holism, 
100, 108-9, *i 123, 124, 151, 
23*, 250, 268, 303, 314, 320, 321, 
322, 323-5, 338, 353 

Variation, 149, 200-201 ; Darwinian 
theory of, 194, 195, 196, 197, 
200-202,214-15; Neo-Darwinian 
theories of, 198-200, 202-14 ; the 
germ-cell theory of, 196, 198, 199, 
202, 205-14, 229; mechanistic 
view of, arbitrary and misleading, 
198-200, 218, 223-4, 229-30; 
the principle of Holism and, 199- 
200, 215, 218-24, 229 n., 340, 351 ; 
Mutation theory of , 54, 202 , 205-6 ; 
Mendelism, 202, 203-4; possible 
influence of modifications on the 
germ-cell, 212-14, 215, 216-17, 
221, 228; the natural selection of 
small variations, 213-17; environ- 
ment and, 212 w., 216, 217, 219, 
227-8; Holistic Selection and, 
220-24, 229; Holism and the 
repression of variations, 224-5 ; 
"gene" theory criticised, 229 w. 

Vitalism, the hypothesis of, criti- 
cised, 1 66-8 ; the theory of 
Entelechy in, 179-80, 184, 278 

Wallace, A. R., 13 

War, the Great, 352-3 

Ward, Professor James, 289-90, 291, 


Weismann, 14; his germ-cell theory 
of Variation, 198, 199, 202, 205- 
14; his doctrine of germinal 
isolation, 207, 209-10, 211, 227, 

Whitehead, Rrof. A. N., and the 
fallacy of simple location, 22 n. t 
121 ; his doctrine of organic 
mechanism, 121-4 

Whole, the : the reciprocal influence 
of the whole and its parts, 79-86, 

105, 106, 107, 109-10, 129-35, 
145-6, 218-19, 222-3, 280, 28^-2, 
350 ; fundamental tendency o./the 
universe towards wholes, 83, j)^*-6, 
100-101, 102, no, in, 150-5^, 
1 86, 188-9, 316-17. 328-30, 334- 
5, 338, 344, 34 6 , 353; the charac- 
ter of wholes, 100, 101, 103-4, 
105-7, 109-10, in, 128, 12931, 
350; ideal wholes, 100, 108-9, 
no, 151, 231, 250, 252, 268, 303, 
3M, 320, 321, 322, 323-5, 338, 
353 ; the whole in absolutist philo- 
sophy, 1 02, 104-5, 113; creative- 
ness of wholes, 103, 105, 107, 
136-40, 141-3, I49-5L 230, 231. 
280, 282, 313 ; relation of function 
and structure in wholes, 106-7, 
108, 109, nor 115, 118-19, 129- 
31, 1 60-6 1, 170; progressive scale 
of wholes, 107-9 ; the concept of 
life and that of the whole, 112-13, 
1 68; wholes and their fields, 113, 
115-20, I2I-2, 344, 347~8, 349; 
stimulus transformed into free 
action by, 135, 143, 145,315-16; 
the whole and the idea of cause, 
134-5, 142-3, *44 145-6; freedom 
of wholes, 145-7, 315, 316, 318; 
individuality of wholes, 147, 
241-3, 247-9; co-ordination and 
co-adaptation in wholes, 147-9, 
217-18, 223-4, 229, 342-3; selec- 
tivity of wholes, 170, 351; the 
trend towards a greater Whole, 
185, 186-7, 252, 302, 324, 325; 
Personality as the highest whole, 
272, 273, 276, 281, 282, 284, 30^, 

303, 304, 3, 3n, 313, 3i8, 319; 
psychic wholes,28o, 282 ; monads 
and wholes, 341-3, 344 ; the nature 
of the Supreme Whole, 347, 350 ; 
Nature as a society of wholes, 

348-9, 35* 352 

Wholeness : in life, 79-86, 100 ; the 
aim of Personality, 304-5, 306, 
307, 309, 311-13, 318, 321-2, 
323-4, 325 

Will, the, 162, 259; selectivity 
and, 169, 170; development of, 
249, 252; the basis of Person- 
ality, 303, 304, 305, 307; freedom 
and, 316, 318, 319 

Wordsworth, 345 

X-rays and the investigation of 
atomic structure, 40, 114